Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel challenged Kai Havertz to show greater “hunger and determination” after the forward impressed in a dominant victory at Crystal Palace.
The Germany international scored the Blues’ first goal and set up their second for Christian Pulisic to fire in from close range as they set about making amends for last weekend’s 5-2 loss to West Brom in a scintillating opening 10 minutes at Selhurst Park.
Kurt Zouma all-but ended the game as a contest on the half-hour mark, rising highest to head in a Mason Mount free-kick.
Christian Benteke headed in Jeffrey Schlupp’s cross to reduce the deficit to reward an improved second-half showing from Palace with 25 minutes to go, but Pulisic’s far-post finish from Reece James’ cross ended any hope of an unlikely comeback.
“[Kai Havertz] maybe should’ve scored more, he had more chances,” Tuchel told BBC Sport. “He can still improve his hunger and determination.
“He has outstanding quality. He’s not the leader of this team and he doesn’t have to be. He had excellent runs and he could’ve scored more.”
The win takes Chelsea back into the Premier League top four, two points above Liverpool and West Ham.
A redemptive week for Chelsea
Chelsea suffered the first bump in the road of Thomas Tuchel’s managerial tenure last weekend, with West Brom’s shock win.
Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Porto in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final washed away some of the negativity from that result, putting them in a great position to reach the last four.
And they completed the job with this one-sided display that puts them back in the English top-flight top four, ahead of the likes of Liverpool and West Ham, who will replace them if they win their game in hand at home to Leicester on Sunday.
They had full control of the game before the 11th minute and sealed the win ahead of the 31st through a display packed with neat, precision passing, effective high pressing and clinical finishing.
Keeping up such a relentless display throughout the game was always unlikely, but even when Palace were able to muster something to hurt them, the Blues always had a higher gear to click into.
“It was very good. We started very well, very aggressive and we had a high percentage of possession,” added Tuchel. “We also had a good switch of play and we had a lot of touches in the box – so a very good performance.
“We have the feeling we could’ve scored more but we deserved that and that’s a nice feeling for our self-confidence.”
Palace started the game aiming for a fourth successive top-flight clean sheet at home for the first time since 1992. They spent the majority of the game simply trying to keep the scoreline respectable.
With 38 points, 12 more than 18th-placed Fulham, Roy Hodgson’s side will not be going down this season but the ex-England boss will want to see his side compete better over their remaining fixtures.
“We know they are a good side, everybody knows that, but we can’t afford to play the way we did in the first half,” said Hodgson.
“Both of the first two goals came about through balls lost near our own goal. Suddenly they find themselves 2-0 up after 10-11 minutes. We needed to defend well and make good decisions.
“How many teams can come back from 3-0 down against this Chelsea team? To give some credit the players did better in the second half and showed some fight in them but the bottom line is we played against a Chelsea team that we believed we could stretch and we’re on the back end of a 4-1 defeat and needed to do some last-ditch defending to keep it down to four.”
Chelsea’s dominance over Palace continues
- Crystal Palace have lost each of their last seven Premier League games against Chelsea – only against Tottenham (nine consecutive matches between September 2015 – September 2019) have the Eagles lost more games consecutively versus a specific opponent in their Football League history.
- Chelsea are yet to lose on the road under Thomas Tuchel in the Premier League (P6 W4 D2) – the only Blues manager to avoid defeat in his first six away games in the competition was Felipe Scolari (unbeaten in first 10).
- None of the last 20 Premier League meetings between Crystal Palace and Chelsea have ended as a draw – only Newcastle v Spurs between August 1999 and December 2010 has had a longer run of games without a drawn game in the competition (21).
- Chelsea scored two goals within the opening 10 minutes of a Premier League game for the first time since January 2018 against Brighton (6 minutes), while there were just 102 seconds separating Kai Havertz’s opener and Christian Pulisic’s strike for the Blues.
- Kai Havertz scored and assisted in a single league game for the first time as a Chelsea player, last doing so for Bayer 04 Leverkusen against 1. FC Köln in the Bundesliga in June 2020.
- Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic has scored more Premier League goals against Crystal Palace than against any other side (4), while the only Americans to score more than Pulisic (13) in the competition are Clint Dempsey (57) and Brian McBride (36).
- All four of Mason Mount’s Premier League assists this season for Chelsea have been for headed goals from set piece situations, with three of those being scored by Kurt Zouma.
- Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma has scored five goals in the Premier League this season, more than any other defender. His five league goals this campaign have come from 19 appearances having scored just four goals in his first 141 Premier League games for Chelsea, Stoke and Everton combined.
- Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke has been directly involved in nine goals in his last 11 Premier League appearances against Chelsea (7 goals, 2 assists). He has scored in four home games against them and is yet to end on the winning side (D1 L3) with only Matt Le Tissier v Nottingham Forest (five) scoring in more home Premier League matches against a specific opponent without ending on the winning side.
Crystal Palace have a bit of time off, playing next at Leicester in the Premier League (in a 20:00 BST kick-off on 26 April).
Chelsea also have a little gap now until their next league game, against Brighton on Tuesday, 20 April (20:00). Before then, they have the second leg of their Champions League tie with Porto (this coming Tuesday) and an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City next Saturday.
- 8KouyatéBooked at 29mins
- 3van Aanholt
- 9J AyewSubstituted forTownsendat 76’minutes
- 44RiedewaldSubstituted forMcCarthyat 59’minutes
- 25EzeSubstituted forSchluppat 59’minutes
- 20Hudson-OdoiSubstituted forJamesat 76’minutes
- 5JorginhoSubstituted forKantéat 61’minutes
- 17KovacicSubstituted forZiyechat 83’minutes
- Michael Oliver
Match ends, Crystal Palace 1, Chelsea 4.