LONDON: Jose Mourinho’s statements that Chelsea are not Premier title favourites received wrong-footed vindication from his own captain after John Terry’s own goal sent the Blues tumbling to a surprise 1-0 derby defeat at Crystal Palace.
The former England defender turned Joel Ward’s 52nd-minute cross into his own net under pressure from Joe Ledley to hand the Eagles a precious three points in their battle for survival and improve Manchester City and Liverpool’s title prospects.
Perhaps Mourinho’s men were distracted by thoughts of their Champions League duel with Paris Saint-Germain. Palace’s first league victory over Chelsea since 1990 was no more than Tony Pulis’s team south Londoners deserved.
Another happy manager was David Moyes after two goals from Wayne Rooney fired Manchester United to a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa.
Before the game a group of unhappy fans chartered a plane to fly the message: “Wrong One – Moyes out” in seven-foot high red lettering over Old Trafford.
The plane was booed when spotted overhead and a chant of: “One David Moyes!” rang out around the ground.
The critics had hired the plane and the banner as a response to the ‘Chosen One’ banner on the Stretford End at Old Trafford, which refers to former manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s role in Moyes’s appointment as his successor.
Moyes reacted to the planned protest by making the unusual step of walking out before his team and was clapped all the way to the dug-out.
The Scot showed his appreciation by applauding all four corners of the stadium.
The incident underlined the shift in mood at United after Ferguson’s departure as manager last summer. But Moyes suggested the money spent on the protest would have been better used by donating it to charity.
He said: “You just have to remain focused on the game – and that’s what we have done. The people with the plane could have put the money to better use by donating it to Darren Fletcher’s colitis research appeal instead.”
Pressure on Moyes increased briefly after Villa snatched an early lead through an Ashley Westwood free kick but Rooney headed United level and then put them ahead from a penalty after Juan Mata had been fouled by Leandro Bacuna.
Mata’s first goal for United extended their lead before substitute Javier Hernandez completed the scoring.
Southampton continued their pursuit of United with a 4-0 victory over Newcastle which saw them overtake the fading Magpies. Keeper Rob Elliott, deputising for injured Tim Krul, kept Newcastle alive until a decisive strike in first-half stoppage time from Jay Rodriguez.
In the second half fellow England World Cup hopefuls Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana helped themselves to a goal apiece before Rodriguez struck a second goal just before the final whistle.
The thriller of the day took place at The Hawthorns where West Bromwich led Cardiff 2-0 in nine minutes before being held 3-3. Norway forward Mats Daehli snatched a conclusive Cardiff eequaliser with almost the last kick of the game.
Cardiff’s South Wales neighbours Swansea enjoyed a much more comfortable afternoon with a 3-0 victory over Norwich with two first-half goals from Jonathan de Guzman and a second half addition from Wayne Routledge.
Peter Odemwingie maintained his goalscoring form as Stoke recorded a third successive victory by 1-0 over Hull.
Odemwingie struck in the 62nd minute with his fourth goal in three games and fifth since joining the Potters from Cardiff in January.