Chelsea restored their five-point lead at the Barclays Premier League summit with a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace in a match where both teams finished with 10 men.
Oscar gave the visitors a sixth-minute lead thanks to a stunning free-kick but Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta and his Palace counterpart Damien Delaney received red cards within three minutes of each other during the first half.
Chelsea adapted well to the reduced numbers as Cesc Fabregas instigated and finished a well-worked team move to score his first Barclays Premier League goal for the club after half-time, ensuring Jose Mourinho's men found the appropriate response to Manchester City's Sergio Aguero-inspired 4-1 win over Tottenham in Saturday's early kick-off.
Loic Remy made a first league start for Chelsea as Diego Costa was ruled out by a troublesome hamstring injury, while Delaney was given the task of shackling the France striker with Palace centre-back Scott Dann sidelined. The hosts had an early chance as Campbell raced onto Joel Ward's searching pass, but goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois raced out to block.
Chelsea opened the scoring in memorable fashion. Delaney fouled Willian on the edge of the penalty area, leaving Oscar to whip the ball beyond Julian Speroni into the top-left corner. Gary Cahill endured a torrid opening at Campell's hands and the striker prodded onto the roof of the net in the 12th minute before beating his man to drag wide a left-footed shot. Jason Puncheon also tested Courtois with a stinging shot ahead of the first-half's final five minutes.
Azpilicueta received a 40th-minute red card for a lunge on Mile Jedinak but it was 10-a-side just three minutes later as Delaney, booked for fouling Remy, pulled back Willian and was shown a second yellow card by referee Craig Pawson. Nemanja Matic almost doubled the lead but headed narrowly wide from the resulting set-piece.
Fabregas demonstrated his technical brilliance by extending Chelsea's lead after 51 minutes. The Spain midfielder exchanged passes with Eden Hazard and Oscar in a display of one-touch football before slotting past Speroni at his near post.
Palace had switched Martin Kelly to centre-half from right-back in Delaney's absence and the former Liverpool man slid in to stop Hazard converting Fabregas's low 61st-minute cross. The Belgium playmaker then flashed a shot past a post with 16 minutes remaining.
Cahill emulated Kelly with a last-ditch challenge to thwart Yannick Bolasie before substitute Zaha handed Campbell a simple 90th-minute finish to set up a grandstand finale, but Palace, who made Selhurst Park such a fortress in their stirring escape from relegation trouble last season, have now won once in five outings at home this term.
Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock: "I thought we did really well. Played some good stuff, had some good chances. They know they've been in a game today.
"The players have done really well - super. I can't fault them. We could have been two or three up. All credit to the players, they were superb."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: "My team had a fantastic performance. From minute one we did what we wanted to do, have the ball, use the ball and control the game. After that comes the red cards. And 10 against 10 with the qualities we have was even easier for us.
"The second goal was a scandal. It is unbelievably good! Against Burnley we scored a goal, which I thought would be our goal of the season but this is just as good."
|25 Oct 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|08 Nov 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|03 Nov 2014||v Sunderland (H)|
|23 Nov 2014||v Liverpool (H)|
|29 Nov 2014||v Swansea (A)|
|02 Dec 2014||v Aston Villa (H)|