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Chelsea beat Palace to go nine points clear

Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to nine points, for at least a day, with a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park as Diego Costa scored his 50th goal for the club.

Costa, who will miss the home game against Bournemouth on Dec. 26 after picking up his fifth booking of the season, made the decisive contribution in the 43rd minute when he headed Chelsea in front.

Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic returned to the Chelsea starting XI in place of Pedro and Cesc Fabregas, while for Palace Joe Ledley and Jason Puncheon replaced Mathieu Flamini and Lee Chung-Yong.

The teams made a slow start in foggy conditions on a slippery pitch, and Jason Puncheon wasted the first real opportunity of the game when he shot wide from Martin Kelly’s low cross on 20 minutes.

Palace’s tactic of defending deep and in numbers frustrated Chelsea, but Costa was able to break the deadlock, heading home Cesar Azpilicueta’s excellent lofted pass into the box from close range.

Early into the second half Yohan Cabaye drew a diving save from Thibaut Courtois and N’Golo Kante’s powerful effort tested Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal.

Palace carved out several openings aerially, as they tried to bring the best out of Christian Benteke, but Chelsea, and in particular Courtois, stood up to the test well.

Cesc Fabregas, who was introduced in place of Willian, and Kante brought further saves from Hennessey as Chelsea pushed for a second goal and came close to finding it when Marcos Alonso struck the underside of the crossbar with a free kick in the 83rd minute.

Credit:PA SPORT@ESPN.COM

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