Chelsea earned their first victory of 2023 as they edged Crystal Palace 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The hosts, who announced the €70 million signing of Mykhailo Mudryk during the first half, were watched on by the Ukraine winger as Kai Havertz scored the only goal of the game to end Chelsea’s run of three straight defeats.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (US)
Chelsea honored former manager Gianluca Vialli, who died earlier this month at age 58 after a battle with cancer, before kick-off with players wearing “No. 9 Vialli” t-shirts during the warm-up and a banner presented in the stands.
Graham Potter’s side made a high-tempo start but struggled to force any early chances.
Palace were the first to test the opposing goalkeeper with two efforts in quick succession, first from Tyrick Mitchell which Kepa blocked well before the Spain goalkeeper was again called into action to deny Michael Olise’s volley at full stretch.
From the stands, Mudryk watched his new team start to grow into the game and test Palace’s resilience. Vicente Guaita saved well from Thiago Silva’s low driven volley on 24 minutes. Eight minutes later, Havertz missed a good chance as he headed Hakim Ziyech’s cross onto the roof of the net.
The two sides traded chances at the end of the first half but neither found the breakthrough.
Mudryk was presented to Chelsea fans at half time as he walked onto the pitch to a large ovation, and they were again on their feet when Potter’s side took the lead on 64 minutes through Havertz.
Ziyech frequently caused issues with dangerous crosses, this time from a short corner his ball in from the left found the German forward who rose highest to head an effort past Guaita and score his side’s first goal at Stamford Bridge in 2023.
Nine minutes from time, Havertz missed a free header for the chance to double his side’s lead, but Chelsea managed to remain 10th in the Premier League. Palace stay in 12th place.