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Chelsea beats Palace in EPL before trip to Barcelona

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) Chelsea prepared for its Champions League trip to Barcelona by beating Crystal Palace 2-1 on Saturday to close the gap on the English Premier League top four to two points.

Palace defender Martin Kelly had an inadvertent hand in both goals. Willian's opener in the 25th minute took a deflection off Kelly. Then an attempt to clear Davide Zappacosta's shot in the 32nd hit goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and came off Kelly again before going over the line.

Former Chelsea academy graduate Patrick van Aanholt pulled one back in the 90th but it was too late for Palace to stave off a fourth successive loss. The south London club remains winless in its last seven games and lodged in the relegation zone.

The struggle for Chelsea is to secure one of the four Champions League places. Tottenham, which plays Bournemouth on Sunday, is two points ahead of Chelsea in fourth place.

Chelsea's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League could rest on winning the competition for a second time. Antonio Conte's side is locked with Barcelona at 1-1 heading into the second leg on Wednesday.

AP Premier League coverage:

Updated March 10, 2018

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