Chelsea roared back into fourth spot in the Premier League as Christian Pulisic scored twice in an impressive 4-1 victory at London rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday.
After boss Thomas Tuchel’s long unbeaten run since taking charge ended abruptly against West Bromwich Albion last week, Chelsea responded in emphatic fashion.
Kai Havertz punished some sloppy defending to give Chelsea an eighth-minute lead and Pulisic doubled their advantage two minutes later with a powerful finish.
Chelsea totally dominated the first half and went 3-0 up on the half hour with a Kurt Zouma header.
Palace did improve after the break and Christian Benteke’s header gave them a lifeline but Pulisic made the points safe with a close-range finish after 78 minutes.
Chelsea had started the game in sixth place after Liverpool’s last-gasp win against Aston Villa.
But Chelsea’s biggest margin of victory since Tuchel took charge in January moved them back above Liverpool and West Ham United into fourth place with 54 points from 31 games, two ahead of West Ham, who host third-placed Leicester City on Sunday.
Palace stay in 13th spot.
“The first half an hour was excellent. We were very hungry, very aggressive and got a lot of recoveries in the final third,” Tuchel said.
“After 35 minutes we dropped a little in position and got a little bit sloppy. We continued like this a little in the second half but it was a good reaction after their goal.
“We put pressure on ourselves to have the right response. It was a step in the right direction.”
Chelsea’s opener came after Palace winger Eberechi Eze was caught in possession by Mason Mount on the edge of the area.
He then fed Callum Hudson-Odoi who in turn played in Havertz to place coolly his shot beyond keeper Vicente Guaita.
Their second was all about their slick passing as Palace were left chasing shadows.
The ball was eventually cut back by Havertz for Pulisic to take a touch and smash a shot high into the net.
Chelsea were in cruise control after half an hour when Mount curled in a free kick and Zouma rose to head home.
Benteke’s header snapped Chelsea back into full throttle and Pulisic rounded off a great display when he slid in to convert substitute Reece James’s low cross.