Crystal Palace looked set for a third straight stalemate in the Premier League on Saturday, but a goal from Chelsea in the 89th minute condemned Patrick Vieira to his ninth defeat as a top-flight manager.
Defensive stability, strung together by victory in the midfield battle, saw The Eagles look good value for the majority of the fixture, and although they were let off the hook by a VAR intervention in the 74th minute, Chelsea found a breakthrough late on.
Marcos Alonso came off the bench to deliver an enticing cross to the back post, where a lively Hakim Ziyech awaited to sweep past Jack Butland and hand the World Champions their fifth consecutive victory.
“It was frustrating to concede the goal in that way at the end. We knew that we needed to defend well as a team for 95 minutes, and we did that quite well,” said Vieira.
“It showed the quality of Chelsea and how important it is to keep our concentration high for the whole game, and we didn’t.
“To get punished like that at the end is really difficult for the players because they deserved a draw today.”
Failure to be clinical proved costly
Through no fault of exceptional defensive displays from Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen, who kept Romelu Lukaku to a Premier League record low of seven touches in 95 minutes, Crystal Palace remain winless in 2022.
Vieira opted to feather the throttle in his team's shape against Chelsea, with the emphasis being placed on sustaining a compact rigour when their visitors had possession of the ball.
And although they still looked to play with the usual enthusiasm and verve that Selhurst Park had been accustomed to this season when on the ball, The Eagles failed to register a single shot on target.
When asked if it was the only area of the game his side could have improved on, Vieira said: “If you want to score goals, you have to hit the target or at least make the keeper work. Today, that was one of the areas that we didn’t do well.”