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Chelsea beat Palace to clinch Premier League title

Chelsea's Eden Hazard (L) and Didier Drogba (R) celebrate after the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea clinched their first Premier League title for five years as Jose Mourinho’s side produced a typically stubborn display to grind out a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace at a jubilant Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Playmaker Eden Hazard scored the crucial goal in the 45th minute when he headed home the rebound after Palace keeper Julian Speroni had saved his weak penalty.

Chelsea were tested at times by a dangerous Palace side but the final whistle was greeted by raucous scenes as Jose Mourinho’s side clinched their fifth top-flight title and first since 2010.

Chelsea have 83 points from 35 games and cannot be surpassed by closest rivals Manchester City, who visit Tottenham Hotspur later on Sunday, and Arsenal both of whom trail by 16 points. Palace remain 12th with 42 points.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Chelsea captain John Terry told Sky Sports. “We’ve worked so hard, so to get over the line is great.

“It was a bit nervy — they are a good side and made it difficult. Thankfully Eden got the goal and we won the game.

“This is what I live for. It’s been five years since we’ve won it. The first one was special and you go four or five years without it and that hurts. So I’ll really enjoy it today.”

Blustery, grey conditions had lingered for much of Sunday morning but kickoff in west London was greeted by the sudden emergence of sunshine which reflected the celebratory mood created by Chelsea’s expectant fans inside Stamford Bridge.

Visiting manager Alan Pardew had won four of his previous six matches as an opposition coach against Chelsea and from the opening stages it was evident his side — nestled safely in mid table — had designs on postponing the Blues’ title celebrations.

The hosts were almost gifted a fortuitous lead in the 22nd minute when Speroni punched wildly at Cesc Fabregas’s free kick but Nemanja Matic, afforded the freedom of the Palace penalty area, dithered and his shot was diverted for a corner.

Then it was Palace’s turn to go close but Jason Puncheon was denied by a desperate block from Chelsea defender John Terry — though replays suggested the ball may have struck the Chelsea captain’s arm.

With frustrations slowly building it was talisman Hazard, who after a relatively anonymous half by his own standards, burst into life drawing a challenge from James McArthur to win a controversial penalty.

The resultant spot kick was tame and easily saved by Speroni though the Belgian was quickest to react to nod home the rebound.

The game followed a similarly fractured pattern after the break and Chelsea had chances to extend their lead before Jason Puncheon fired inches wide for Palace in the 69th minute.

Palace have won more points from losing positions than any other Premier League side this year and they continued to cast warning shots with their counter-attacking threat.

At the other end, Chelsea continued to fire blanks in search of a clinching goal but a fervent atmosphere had already engulfed Stamford Bridge long before the final whistle was blown.

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