John Terry's own goal put a huge dent in Chelsea’s Barclays Premier League title hopes as Crystal Palace boosted their survival chances with a 1-0 win on Saturday.
Hovering above the drop zone coming into the game, the victory gives Tony Pulis' side a massive lift in their bid to avoid relegation straight back to the Championship as they now sit 16th, five points clear of the bottom three.
After Chelsea's resounding 6-0 win over Arsenal last week, and Palace's last-minute defeat at Newcastle United, many expected a routine three points for Jose Mourinho's table-toppers, but the hosts upset the form book by recording their first league win over Chelsea since 1990.
Pulis's team came up against a Chelsea team who had been rampant in thumping Arsenal, but there was no sign of that ruthless attacking vigour at Selhurst Park as the home side nullified their opponents. Mourinho was gushing in his praise of the Palace fans after the reverse fixture in December, and they were in fine voice once again on Saturday, particularly when Terry put through his own net in the 52nd minute. Joel Ward whipped in a cross from the left hand side, and as the Chelsea captain challenged Joe Ledley, the ball glanced off his head and flew past Petr Cech.
It was a huge setback for Mourinho's men, who missed out on the chance to go four points clear at the top. However after Manchester City's draw at Arsenal, the Blues still top the table by a point from Liverpool, who play on Sunday, and lead City by two points.
After a quiet opening to the game, Andre Schurrle squandered the first opening in the 18th minute, prodding the ball wide from four yards after stretching to reach Cesar Azpilicueta's low cross at the back post. The hosts had a chance of their own eight minutes later, Yannick Bolasie struggling to control a fizzing Jason Puncheon delivery before poking his effort into the side-netting.
Palace had two penalty shouts waved away in as many minutes as first Cameron Jerome tumbled under a challenge from Nemanja Matic before Bolasie pleaded with referee Lee Mason following a sliding tackle from Gary Cahill. Terry scored at the wrong end shortly after the interval, heading Ward's cross beyond Cech at the near post under pressure from Ledley.
Chelsea almost levelled immediately, Julian Speroni diving full length to his left to keep out Eden Hazard's curling effort from the edge of the area. As the game became more open, Puncheon's left-foot shot went narrowly wide of the far post in the 62nd minute, before Terry nodded Oscar's free-kick just over the crossbar 60 seconds later.
Speroni was the hero again 17 minutes from time, producing an close-range save from Hazard to deny the Belgian what looked a certain goal, before Palace broke straight down the other end, only for Jerome to strike the outside of a post.
Ledley twice went close for the hosts in the final stages, but it mattered little as Palace held on for a surprise win to send Selhurst Park into raptures.
Crystal Palace assistant manager David Kemp: "We had to stop their strengths and we had to have players that were prepared to run beyond their back four and run at them and stretch them. We did that very well, obviously the finishing didn't match some of the rest of the play but that's been a problem for a while and fortunately one [goal] was enough. We had a lot of players putting in great individual performances and within the framework of the team, that was very important.
“We've had him [Jerome] before at Stoke and we know his potential and what he's capable of. That was a performance where he showed all that potential, apart from the finishing obviously because he’s hit the post, but he put in a wonderful performance and hopefully we can keep it going for next week."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: “It is now impossible to win the title. We depend too much on other results. With what happened two weekends ago [losing to Aston Villa] and today, it is too much now and we depend on too many results.
"Of course, with my mentality, I want to try and win every game. The main objective is to finish in the top four. The second objective is to finish in the top three, which is also important. Since the beginning of the season I am just trying to win without thinking too much about positions, and about points."
|05 Apr 2014||v Cardiff (A)|
|12 Apr 2014||v Aston Villa (H)|
|16 Apr 2014||v Everton (A)|
|19 Apr 2014||v West Ham (A)|
|27 Apr 2014||v Man City (H)|
|05 May 2014||v Liverpool (H)|