Chelsea revives EPL hopes before playing Barcelona

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London, March 11 (IANS) Chelsea revived its hopes for a top-four English Premier League spot with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at the Stamford Bridge, reassuring the team prior to its match against Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16.

Antonio Conte’s team, currently in the fifth spot in the EPL, bounced back from four defeats on Saturday, two of them — against Manchester United and Manchester City — in their last five matches, reports Efe.

Conte made few changes to his lineup, replacing Pedro with striker Olivier Giroud, while also calling upon Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Gary Cahill, Davide Zappacosta, N’Golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Marcos Alonso, Willian and Eden Hazard.

Crystal Palace’s defence did not even hold half an hour, with Chelsea’s Willian scoring the first in the 25th minute.

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Cutting inside from the left, Willian found an open space and scored with the help of a deflection by defender Martin Kelly and the left post.

The Blues doubled their lead with a good dose of luck, when a cross from David Zappacosta ricocheted off goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, hitting defender Martin Kelly before rolling into the right corner.

Chelsea remained in control of the match in the second half, finding several clear chances to score with shots by Eden Hazard, Willian and Olivier Giroud, which they failed to convert.

Crystal Palace improved its game in the last minutes, when Chelsea had already decided to slow its pace.

With a few seconds left in regulation, Crystal Palace’s Van Aanholt scored an impeccable goal after a good play by Wilfried Zaha.

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Chelsea’s win now places the team at two-points from Tottenham, currently holding the Premier League’s fourth spot.

–IANS

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