Chelsea succumbed to a dismal 1-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace to all but end their title hopes.
A John Terry own goal seven minutes inside the second half was enough to settle the match and make sure the three points were staying at Selhurst Park.
And in truth, it was the home side which deserved it. Despite Chelsea’s 67% possession and 21 shots, it was the Eagles who had four shots on target, twice the amount of Chelsea.
It proved to be a very costly and wasteful day for the visitors, who defy logic by beating the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal so convincingly last week, but then slip up against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.
It means the Blues, who have been in first place for seven weeks now, could be displaced later this evening if Manchester City win at The Emirates, who still have two games in hand.
Chelsea, who have not lost away in the Premier League since early December, now record back-to-back away defeats to eliminate all chances of a title surge, particularly with gruelling trips left in the Champions League.
It was a match that should have been a walk-over. The early opening against Arsenal last weekend could not be replicated this time, but though the Blues scored four in the opening 17 minutes against the Gunners, they should have at least recorded one here today.
Azpilicueta’s overlapping run brought about space and the Spaniard’s low drive was very nearly put in by Schurrle.
At the other end, Gary Cahill had to be alert to danger, but perhaps he got away with one over-eager tackle on Cameron Jerome, seeming to get the man first before the ball. Lee Mason decided against awarding the home side a spot-kick.
The half-time interval did not stop Palace’s determination, however. Once again causing problems for Chelsea out wide, it was unfortunate that John Terry got his head on to a Ward cross. The captain was too busy making sure Ledley did not get clean contact on it that he himself did, much to Cech’s bewilderment.
And so it was left for Chelsea to chase the game, and for Palace to sit deep and defend. The latter were resolute and victorious.
Hazard had a glorious chance but for a Speroni save, but that would have only been the equaliser. As for Palace, time and again they could have caught Chelsea on the break, with Jerome closest to the game’s second, lashing his left-footed drive against the post.
Chelsea ended the game with Salah, Oscar, Ba, Torres and Hazard but there was no way through. Chelsea are definitely now no longer favourites.
(Chelsea) Man of the Match
GARY CAHILL: It is hard to pick out a Chelsea player worthy of merit, but the attack was truly woeful. As for the defence, Crystal Palace kept our full-backs busy all afternoon, whilst Terry scored the own goal. Cech perhaps could have reacted a bit better to it too. It falls for Gary Cahill to receive my praise in a process of elimination, though even he perhaps should have conceded a penalty. 5/10
Mourinho was unhappy with his players: “Mentality and a little bit of quality [was what was missing this afternoon from his side]. The opponent beat us clearly in their mentality. They had a strong mentality, aggressive, committed. Every one of them played I think to the top of their potential. Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta perform every game… [but] we have some players who find it difficult to perform in some matches.”
Pulis was naturally delighted: “It’s a very important result for us. To beat Chelsea will give everyone a boost to push on for the last seven games. The Premier League is the most competitive league in the world… the top teams always have to play well or they can come unstuck.”