CRYSTAL PALACE 1-2 CHELSEA
Jose Mourinho felt Chelsea were more comfortable playing 10v10 than 11v11 as they dug in to beat Crystal Palace.
After Oscar’s sublime free kick put the Blues ahead, Cesar Azpilicueta was sent off for a studs-up lunge and the Eagles’ Damien Delaney followed him for a early bath by picking up his second yellow card before the break.
Cesc Fabregas rounded off a superb team move for his first ever Chelsea league goal to set up a comfortable second half, made only slightly nervous by Fraizer Campbell’s late consolation for the hosts.
Mourinho said: “10 against 10, with the qualities we have, I think it was even easier in the second half than the first.”
Despite top scorer Diego Costa missing though injury, the visitors had no trouble breaking the deadlock just six minutes in, Oscar converting a 25-yard free kick.
Tempers flared after Azpilicueta was shown a straight red for a strong tackle on Eagles captain Mile Jedinak.
It was all even just moments later though when Delaney saw a second yellow after pulling back Loic Remy.
The Blues dominated possession in the second half, using the extra space to dictate play.
Fabregas slotted home to seal the victory in the 50thminute after a great display of team passing and understanding.
It was his first Premier League goal since scoring against Chelsea for Arsenal in December 2010.
Palace substitutes Adlene Guedioura and Wilfried Zaha looked lively for the hosts and Zaha eventually was rewarded for his efforts, beating Filipe Luis to assist Campbell’s 90th minute tap in.
The victory puts the visitors five points clear at the top of the Premier League table.