Eagles’ confidence is soaring sky high, says Benteke

Joe Williams

Christian Benteke: Confidence is flowing

Crystal Palace are a team on the up with confidence flowing through the side, says a rejuvenated Christian Benteke.

Palace won 2-1 at Chelsea on Saturday for a fourth straight win, with Benteke netting what proved to be the winner. Chelsea’s Premier League lead was cut to seven points.

A second successive win at Stamford Bridge – after a 33-year wait for the first – saw Sam Allardyce’s men move to 31 points, further away from relegation danger.

Benteke told eagles.cpfc.co.uk: “You can see that the confidence of the team is high at the moment. We try just to put that on the pitch.

“We work hard for each other. It’s four wins in a row, so we can be happy, but we have to keep going, because there’s still a long way to go.”

The Belgium striker’s own esteem has risen, too, after scoring twice in Russia on international duty and scoring his first Premier League goal since January.

He added: “I think I can’t deny it; as a striker as soon as you score you feel more free.

“You have more confidence in yourself, of what you’re doing. I’m happy to help my team-mates get three points.

“We can be proud of ourselves. The work that we did was unbelievable and we had sometimes some luck, but I think we deserved to win this game.”

Cesc Fabregas gave Chelsea a fifth-minute lead, but the excellent Wilfried Zaha equalised four minutes later and Benteke struck Palace’s second after 11 minutes.

A resilient defensive display and numerous fine saves from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey saw Palace end Chelsea’s 13-game winning run.

Palace want a fifth straight win at Southampton on Wednesday to move further away from the drop zone.

Benteke added: “We have to keep going.”

Palace and Chelsea are likely to face Football Association scrutiny after pyrotechnics were set off during the match.

Four loud bangs were heard coming from the area of the Shed End which housed visiting Palace fans, with smoke bombs and at least one flare visible.

Two people were arrested in the visiting end for allegedly setting off the first pyrotechnic, the Metropolitan Police said.

A third was arrested for allegedly assaulting a steward who was attempting to deal with the incident.

Two further arrests were made for possession of class A drugs.

Further individuals were barred from entry to the ground for possession of pyrotechnics.

Chelsea’s title credentials face another tough examination in Wednesday’s clash at home to Manchester City.

Head coach Antonio Conte has long insisted a Chelsea title win is not a formality.

The Blues require 21 points from the final nine games to be certain of the title.

Conte told Chelsea TV: “Anything can happen, above all in England.

“Every game is very tough against a strong team like Manchester City. It’s important to prepare in the right way for this game.

“Another difficult game.”