It had to happen eventually, and at 3.11pm on a humid afternoon in south-east London, the gods finally relented.

After 731 minutes, spread over 152 days, Crystal Palace scored in the Premier League.

The title will not be coming back to Stamford Bridge this season if they are going to be negligent at one end of the pitch and lacking ruthlessness at the other.

Crystal Palace

There was an element of good fortune when Yohan Cabaye ended starvation rations in SE25, a friendly riocochet off Cesar Azpilicueta eventually being debited against the Chelsea defender as an own goal after it wrong-footed Thibaut Courtois.

The champions’ goalkeeper had already been required to make a smart save to foil the returning Wilfried Zaha before the breakthrough after 11 minutes, which was no more than Palace deserved.

Insert your own hackneyed phrase about the finest traditions of London buses here, but what happened next was as inevitable as it was merited.

Three points, two goals, Palace’s season is up and running at last.


And Roy Hodgson has banked his first Premier League win since the Football Association invited him

As for Chelsea, summary bluntness will suffice. They did not play like champions, and that sky-blue haze disappearing over the horizon is Manchester City.

Giddy as they may have been after their early breakthrough, however, there was no excuse for the dopey defending from a bog-standard set piece which afforded Chelsea an equaliser six mintues later.

The Blues had been struggling to get a foothold in the game until Cesc Fabregas picked out the unmarked Tiemoue Bakayoko from a right-wing corner and a perfunctory nod of the French midfielder’s peroxide barnet was all it took to restore parity.

Briefly, Palace were rattled by their own slipshod discipline, but on the stroke of half-time Chelsea’s insipid, limp-wristed contribution to the contest was punished again.

Mamadou Sakho robbed the dithering Willian and slipped an astute pass to Zaha, speeding through the inside-left channel, and Courtois was beaten again before the Palace winger could flutter his dreadlocks.

Chelsea could scarcely play much worse than they did in the first 45 minutes, and despite losing the injured Victor Moses there was at least a more assertive quality about their work after the interval.

Fabregas trimmed the crossbar from 25 yards and 38-year-old Julian Speroni – making his first Premier League appearance for 16 months – got down well to parry Pedro’s low drive at his near post before hanging on to Marcos Alonso’s header at the second attempt.

Patrick van Aanholt’s glaring miss, five minutes from time, could have been costly, and Palace lived on their nerves through five minutes of stoppage time, but their relief was palpable when referee Andre Marriner stopped teasing us with his stopwatch.