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Kante's goal secures Palace coup for Chelsea

photo by AP photo

Crystal Palace\'s James McArthur (right) and Chelsea\'s Mateo Kovacic during their English Premier League soccer match at Selhurst Park in London on Sunday.

By Agency
01st-Jan-2019       
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N'Golo Kante showed signs he is growing into his more advanced midfield role with a composed finish that gave Chelsea a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri has been criticised for moving Kante out of his more familiar position in front of the back four, with Jorginho filling the holding role. As a result, Kante's effectiveness this season has been questioned, but the former Leicester City man impressed as he struck the 51st minute match-winner that helped the Blues tighten their grip on fourth by opening up a five-point gap to Arsenal.
Kante followed a perfectly timed run to meet David Luiz's chipped pass with a clinical finish to cap a dominant display by Sarri's side against London rivals Palace. Chelsea's failure to add to Kante's third league goal of the season will have given Sarri some concern, though, and would have proved costly had Palace substitute Connor Wickham not skied a late chance over the bar. The Italian manager reshaped his forward line by including Olivier Giroud as the central striker -- a decision that handed Alvaro Morata another reminder of his place in the strikers' pecking order at Stamford Bridge.
The Spaniard was among the substitutes, while Giroud's inclusion freed Eden Hazard from his recent duties as a false nine, allowing the Belgium international to return to his more familiar position on the left of the front three. But despite dominating, particularly in the second half, Chelsea's chances remained limited.
Hazard quickly made the most of his freedom to drift in from the flank, testing the Palace defence with a number of runs from deep.

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