There was a strange inevitability about the dying moments of the Crystal Palace v Chelsea match as Conor Gallagher – last year’s Selhurst Park hero after spending a season with the Eagles on loan – came on as sub and scored a last-gasp winner just as ref Chris Kavanagh’s watch ticked over to the start
There was a strange inevitability about the dying moments of the Crystal Palace v Chelsea match as Conor Gallagher – last year’s Selhurst Park hero after spending a season with the Eagles on loan – came on as sub and scored a last-gasp winner just as ref Chris Kavanagh’s watch ticked over to the start of four minutes of stoppage time.
Shellshocked Palace simply hadn’t time to react as the remaining seconds dissolved. Gallagher didn’t celebrate the goal out of respect for the home fans with whom he has established a close bond, but it was one of the best curlers he’ll ever score, and it gave Graham Potter his first league win as Chelsea manager, in his first league game for his new club.
Until that moment of magic, the match was destined to end in a 1-1 draw. And it would have been a fair outcome as both sides had chances, and seemed evenly matched.
Palace fans were none to happy about Mr Kavanagh’s performance in the middle, notably fuming about a yellow card being shown to Thiago Silva (pictured above, just ahead of Ben Chilwell, heading to the dressing room at half-time) in the 33rd minute when he was bundled off the ball then reached out with his arm to push it away from Jordan Ayew, who could have had a free run to goal.
The Blues went behind in the seventh minute after a solemn start with a minute’s silence for the Queen and the singing of God Save The King. Ayew crossed the ball into the Chelsea area, evading Reece James and falling nicely for Odsonne Edouard, who diverted it past Kepa.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his first goal for his new club in reply after 38 minutes, with Thiago heading the ball into the Palace penalty area for the former Arsenal striker to spin and fire home, with the home fans – and Palace manager Patrick Vieira – claiming the Chelsea centre back shouldn’t have been on the pitch.
Ref Kavanagh’s decision to just show a yellow card to Thiago (while fans were baying for red, and while Palace players surrounded him to remonstrate) was reviewed by VAR, and upheld. Vieira himself was booked for the protests.
Then, right at the death, sub Christian Pulisic went on a run and squared to the edge of the area for Gallagher to wriggle into a shooting position and send an unstoppable shot curling into the top corner.
The boos for the referee were still ringing out long after the game had finished. Palace felt cheated, and mugged. Chelsea felt slightly fortunate and rather relieved.