Conor Gallagher’s sublime last-minute strike earned Chelsea a 2-1 win against his former club Crystal Palace to give Graham Potter a winning start in the Premier League.
Second-half substitute Gallagher, who spent last season on loan at Selhurst Park, curled home in the 90th minute to win a game that Chelsea trailed early on.
Odsonne Edouard had given Palace the lead on home soil in Saturday’s contest, only for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to net his first goal for Chelsea before half-time.
Palace felt Thiago Silva should have been sent off before assisting that Aubameyang equaliser, and their mood was not helped by former player Gallagher’s late winner.
Wesley Fofana was drafted back into Chelsea’s line-up but gave the ball away and then failed to cut out a cross that was clinically converted by Edouard inside seven minutes.
Last man Silva was fortunate to stay on the field when using his hand to stop Jordan Ayew from running through on goal, referee Chris Kavanagh electing to issue only a yellow.
To rub salt in the Palace wounds, Silva nodded down a long ball into the path of Aubameyang, who let it bounce across his body and half-volleyed into the bottom left-corner.
Just when the sides appeared to be heading for a first league draw in 23 meetings, Gallagher – on the field for just 14 minutes – found the top-right corner from range to snatch the win.
Potter’s only game in charge since being appointed Chelsea boss on September 8 was a 1-1 Champions League draw against Salzburg.
This contest was heading the same frustrating way as that match, with Chelsea managing plenty of shots (13 come full-time) without truly troubling the opposition goalkeeper.
But Gallagher’s superb strike gave Potter lift-off in south London and stretched Chelsea’s winning league run against Palace to 10 in a row.
Gallagher’s goal was a particularly cruel one for Palace to take as it was the Eagles who gave him a platform to impress in the Premier League on a regular basis last season.
Now back at Chelsea, the 2022-23 campaign had started rather slowly for the midfielder, but this first league goal for the club will no doubt boost his confidence.
Silva denied Ayew a likely scoring chance and, by the rule of the book, Palace boss Patrick Vieira – booked for his protestations – will rightly argue the defender should have gone.
Not only did Silva stay on the pitch, he also set up Aubameyang’s maiden goal for Chelsea, with that his second league assist this term – no Chelsea player has more.
Chelsea host Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday before facing Wolves in their next league outing in a week’s time. Palace welcome Leeds United to Selhurst Park next weekend.