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Conor Gallagher marks return to Palace with a last-minute winner for Chelsea

Football
 Chelsea's Conor Gallagher, right, reacts after their win in the English Premier League soccer match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park stadium, in London, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/David Cliff)

Conor Gallagher marked his return to Selhurst Park with a last-minute winner in Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace in the English Premier League on Saturday. 

The midfielder, who spent last season on loan at Palace, came off the bench and curled home a shot from the edge of the area in the 90th minute to hand Graham Potter victory in his first league match in charge of Chelsea. 

Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring for Palace after seven minutes and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalized with a neat finish late in the first half. 

Chelsea entered the contest having won all of its last 10 meetings between the clubs, while Palace was playing its first match in nearly a month after fixtures against Manchester United and Brighton were postponed following Queen Elizabeth II’s death. 

Patrick Vieira made three changes from the starting XI that drew with Newcastle in early September and one of those decisions quickly paid off. 

Edouard, who replaced Jean-Philippe Mateta as Vieira’s central striker, met Jordan Ayew’s seventh-minute cross and lifted the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga and into the top right corner. 

Chelsea had a good chance to level at the 20-minute mark when Mason Mount headed inches wide of the right post. 

It was the start of a sustained period of pressure from the visitors, who once again missed by inches after Raheem Sterling pounced on his own rebound but watched his second effort ping off a post. 

And at the other end, Eberechi Eze could not find the finishing touch on an attempt to double Palace’s advantage, firing the ball just wide. 

Palace was furious when Jordan Ayew looked through on goal only to be stopped by a handball by an outstretched Thiago Silva on the ground, but the defender was given only a yellow card. 

Silva’s presence on the pitch proved vital moments later when Reece James found him at the edge of the area and he nodded the pass in the direction of Aubameyang, who spun and fired past a diving Vicente Guaita. 

And it was more bad news for the hosts when Nathaniel Clyne and Silva both rose to meet the ball to the left of Palace’s goal and the former landed awkwardly. He stayed down until he was taken off the pitch on a stretcher and replaced by James Tomkins, himself only recently returned from injury and available to Vieira for the first time this season. 

Gallagher was warmly received when he stepped on the field at Selhurst Park in the 76th minute for the first time since his loan spell, but any friendly sentiment was quickly forgotten when he curled in the winner. 

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