Kai Havertz says the last few weeks have been “tough” for Chelsea after his header earned a narrow victory over Crystal Palace to ease the pressure on manager Graham Potter.

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Kai Havertz is Chelsea’s joint-top scorer this season with six goals in all competitions

Havertz met Hakim Ziyech’s cross shortly after the hour as the Blues ended a run of three successive defeats in all competitions.

“The last few weeks were tough. For everyone at the club, it is not easy under these circumstances,” said the 23-year-old.

“A lot of things changed this year. We have so many injuries. Today we had five young players in the starting XI, they are doing a really good job at the moment.”

The Germany striker should have doubled Chelsea’s advantage but could only flash a header wide from close range from Mason Mount’s cross.

Palace came close to equalising late on when Cheick Doucoure’s long-range volley was spectacularly tipped over by Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea stay 10th despite the win, just their second in 10 Premier League games, but are now level on points with ninth-placed Liverpool.

Palace are 12th after a fifth defeat in six games in all competitions.

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Nervy Blues end losing run
This was far from a convincing performance by Chelsea but the relief was palpable at the final whistle as they avoided the ignominy of losing four successive matches in all competitions for the first time in 30 years.

The goal arrived when Palace lost concentration from a corner allowing Conor Gallagher to play the ball short to Ziyech, whose curling cross was buried past Vicente Guaita by Havertz for his sixth goal of the season.

Chelsea had struggled for many clear-cut openings up to that stage, with Havertz heading over and Lewis Hall flashing a first-time shot across goal during a tame first half.

Havertz glanced wide from Mount’s dangerous cross and substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shot straight at Guaita as Chelsea threatened a second.

Thiago Silva then made several key defensive headers in stoppage time as the Blues clung on during nine nervy minutes of stoppage time.

“Overall we played quite well, they had their moments as well but today was about getting the victory – park it as three valuable points against a team that was pushing as well,” Potter told BBC Sport.

“We try to play well and I thought at times we did, you have to understand the context of the situation we are in so it isn’t going to be sensational football all the time. The boys have worked hard.”

The west London club have also been boosted by the arrival of Ukraine forward Mykhailo Mudryk, who was paraded on the pitch at half-time after confirmation of his transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk.

“He is a young player with exciting quality in the final third,” added Potter. “He is very fast and direct and I think the crowd will like him.”

Eagles on the slide
Palace have just one win in seven games in all competitions since the post-World Cup resumption, with manager Patrick Vieira admitting there was a “challenging mood” around the club before this game.

Vieira could not fault his players’ commitment at Stamford Bridge, but will rue a lapse in concentration for Havertz’s goal and a lack of cutting edge up front.

Tyrick Mitchell and Jeffrey Schlupp forced Kepa into two smart stops during the first half but the visitors faded as an attacking threat after the break.


Their only other opportunity of note was a long-range effort from Doucoure that was tipped over by the Chelsea goalkeeper late on.

“This was a performance where I am really pleased with the attitude and discipline,” Vieira told BBC Sport. “We played a really good game of football and to leave with nothing is hard for us but this is a period where we are.

“We did enough to score goals. The game could have finished 2-2 but we shouldn’t have lost the game, we shouldn’t have conceded on a set-piece.”

Blues pay tribute to Vialli
There were emotional scenes before kick-off as Chelsea paid tribute to their former player and manager Gianluca Vialli in their first home game since his death at the age of 58 earlier this month.

Chelsea’s players warmed-up wearing training kit with ‘Vialli 9’ on the back and also stepped out on to the pitch wearing Chelsea kits bearing his name.

Two huge banners in tribute to the Italian were unfurled at either end of Stamford Bridge, before a number of his former team-mates joined the current players in the centre circle for a minute’s applause before kick-off.

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