Alvaro Morata scored twice to sink Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge and help lift Chelsea above Liverpool into second spot in the Premier League table.
Andros Townsend’s superb low finish had cancelled out a Chelsea lead given to them by Spanish forward Morata’s clever shot-on-the-turn.
Palace’s hopes of securing a crucial point vanished when they conceded two goals in five second-half minutes.
Substitute Eden Hazard marked his return from a back injury by delivering the free-kick for Morata to fire his second before Pedro put the game out of Palace’s reach.
While unbeaten Chelsea stay two points behind leaders Manchester City, Palace remain three points above the relegation zone after a seventh defeat in 11 league games.
Hazard inspires Blues on return
The headlines will be about Morata – the former Real Madrid and Juventus forward has now scored five Premier League goals plus another in the Europa League this season.
Yet the return of Hazard added much needed energy and flair to a team that had struggled to open up Palace in the opening hour.
Having missed the previous three league and cup games with a back injury, the Belgian made up for lost time. He replaced Willian in the 64th minute with the score locked at 1-1.
Ninety-one seconds after his introduction, Chelsea were back in the lead after Palace’s defence failed to deal with Hazard’s free-kick into box allowing Morata to drill home.
Five minutes later it was 3-1, Pedro – who had delivered the pass for Morata to break the deadlock in the first half – with an unstoppable finish after Marcos Alonso’s low cross.
Since arriving in the summer of 2017, Morata has struggled to convince his critics he is a consistent goal source for Chelsea.
Yet his tireless performance against Palace could well win him a few more admirers even though he missed a chance to complete his hat-trick in the closing stages after being sent clean through by Hazard.
Will Palace stay out of danger?
Townsend’s lovely equaliser after James McArthur sent him clean through raised hopes Palace could leave with a vital point.
Instead they are without a win in six league matches and must plan for their next game at home to Tottenham on the back of a fourth defeat in five top-flight games.
After Spurs next Saturday, Palace’s first game after the international break is at Manchester United on 24 November.
Having been knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Championship Middlesbrough in midweek, Palace started well against Chelsea.
With Wilfried Zaha causing problems at one end of the pitch and Mamadou Sakho strong at the other, Chelsea became frustrated until Morata scored with their first shot on target.
Chelsea have managed just two clean sheets in nine league and cup home games this season and Townsend’s quality finish against the run of play – only Palace’s eighth top-flight goal of the campaign – left them in sight of a first away point since 15 September.
Instead Palace have now lost four in a row away from home and problems appear to be mounting for manager Roy Hodgson.