John Terry own goal in loss at Crystal Palace delivers hammer blow to Chelsea’s title hopes

Rodriguez at the double as Southampton crush Newcastle

A dejected John Terry, centre, of Chelsea reacts after opening the scoring with an own goal during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on March 29, 2014. Scott Heavey / Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho claims Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge is over after they slumped to a shock 1-0 loss at relegation-threatened Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Mourinho’s men shot themselves in the foot as a second-half own goal from captain John Terry condemned the Blues to their fifth league defeat of the season.

The Chelsea manager has spent most of the campaign insisting his players are too inexperienced to be regarded as serious title contenders and, in what looked an attempt to take the pressure off his squad, he was quick to write off their title hopes after the setback in south London.

It was the leader's second defeat in three games and has left them at risk of being overtaken by both Liverpool and Manchester City.

“We depend too much on other results,” Mourinho said. “When you depend a little, it’s possible. When you depend a lot, I don’t think it’s possible.

“We depend now too much. I don’t think now we can win the league.”

Palace enjoyed the best of the first half at a sun-soaked Selhurst Park, with Yannick Bolasie hitting the side netting and they took the lead in the 52nd minute when Terry headed Joel Ward’s cross into his own net.

In response, Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni had to save from Eden Hazard, but the hosts might have extended their lead minutes later when Jason Puncheon grazed the post from Cameron Jerome’s pass.

Speroni then produced a stunning full-stretch save to deny Hazard for a second time, before Jerome squandered another opportunity to kill the visitors off with a shot that hit the outside of the post.

Palace continued to threaten, with Petr Cech saving from Puncheon and Stuart O’Keefe, but Fernando Torres spurned a glorious chance to equalise for Chelsea in the dying stages when he chipped over.

Mourinho admitted the Blues had only themselves to blame for their predicament after a lacklustre display.

“Crystal Palace deserved the victory, they fought for their lives,” he said. “We had good chances and their goalkeeper made some good saves in the first half. But their spirit was stronger, their desire was stronger and their commitment was stronger.

“That disappoints me, but it’s a defeat that we can only blame ourselves for.

“Some of our players are not comfortable in these types of matches, like Stoke away, Newcastle away and Everton away.

“Can I change this? I don’t know. My defenders are phenomenal, but in other positions we have players that can be in trouble.”

It was the second surprise loss in the space of two weeks for Mourinho, whose side were beaten 1-0 at Aston Villa on March 15, and allowed Palace to pull five points clear of the relegation zone.

Chelsea remained top of the table with 69 points, one ahead of Liverpool, who can go top when they play Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Manchester City, who drew 1-1 with Arsenal on Saturday, are two points off the lead with two matches in hand.

Goals by England trio Jay Rodriguez (2), Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana helped Southampton cruise to a 4-0 win over a toothless Newcastle United, while a Jonathan de Guzman double and a Wayne Routledge strike saw Swansea City beat Norwich City 3-0 for only their third win in 18 matches.

Peter Odemwingie’s scoring streak since joining Stoke City continued as he registered the only goal of the match in a 1-0 win over Hull City, while Cardiff fought back from going two down to draw 3-3 at fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion.

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