Conor Gallagher was cheered onto the pitch by Crystal Palace supporters and then broke their hearts with a stunning 90th-minute winner.
The midfielder was given a standing ovation when he entered the fray off the bench in the 76th minute after his brilliant loan spell here last season which ended with him winning both the fans and players player of the year awards.
Fourteen minutes later he was performing the now standard muted celebration while his teammates mobbed him after scoring against his old club to earn Graham Potter a victory in his first Premier League game in charge.
Conor Gallagher scored the winning goal in the 90th minute after coming off the bench to make his Selhurst Park return
His curled effort from outside the box was enough to secure all three points for Chelsea in a comeback win after trailing 1-0
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his first goal for Chelsea against Crystal Palace in just his third game for the club
Graham Potter followed a Champions League draw with RB Salzburg with a comeback win in his first league game at Chelsea
It must have been so hard for Gallagher to supress his emotions. This was his first ever goal for Chelsea, a huge moment for the 22 year-old who is hoping to build on his Palace spell by making the grade at his boyhood club and has not endured not the smoothest of starts, including a red card against Leicester.
Palace manager Patrick Vieira stood stony faced in his technical area after seeing the youngster he helped develop so impressively, and into an England international, last season return to haunt his former side.
It was a final crushing blow after seeing his side surrender a one goal lead and be on the wrong end of the VAR controversy when Thiago Silva escaped a red card for a first half handball and then went on to set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s equaliser just five minutes later.
Thiago Silva narrowly avoided being sent off after deliberately handling the ball as the last defender under heavy pressure
The Brazilian, 38, then went on to provide the assist for Aubameyang’s brilliant finish on the swivel just moments later
That left Palace raging and chairman Steve Parish taking to Twitter to vent his fury at what threatened to be the game’s biggest talking point … until Gallagher struck at the death.
Palace’s start was perfect. From their first attack they went ahead with a little help from the recalled Wesley Fofana. Firstly the French defender gifted possession to Odsonne Edouard who swept the ball wide to Jordan Ayew.
Then, when Ayew whipped the ball into the box, Fofana was a split second too late getting back into position, allowing Edouard to stretch out a leg and score.
Odsonne Edouard needed just seven minutes before he broke the deadlock on Saturday
Palace had been the better of the two sides for much of the game before conceding the late goal after a spirited display
With their tails up Palace threatened twice more through the lively Eberechi Eze but Chelsea, despite the scoreline, were dominating possession and their chances began to come.
Aubameyang scored on his second Premier League debut
Mason Mount ghosted into the box and was inches wide with a header from Kai Havertz’s cross before Raheem Sterling poked an effort under Vicente Guaita and against the outside of the post after a clever Mount dummy.
Though there was a major moment of concern for Chelsea just after the hour. Last man Silva was dispossessed by Ayew and, with the Palace forward primed to head towards Chelsea’s area, the Brazilian swiped the ball away with his hand.
Referee Chris Kavanagh showed Silva a yellow card and VAR Stuart Atwell agreed despite Palace’s appeals for a red, concluding that a goalscoring opportunity had not been denied with Ayew not heading directly towards goal and having gathered possession a long way out.
Of course, Silva was then involved in Chelsea’s equaliser. From Reece James’s diagonal pass, Silva knocked the ball down to Aubameyang who let the ball run across him so he could roll defender Joel Ward and fire his first Chelsea goal expertly past Guaita.
To make matters worse, Nathaniel Clyne suffered a leg injury in the process of challenging Silva that led to him being carried off on a stretcher as Vieira, already missing Joachim Andersen due to a calf injury, was forced into another defensive reshuffle.
Vieira, no doubt still angry that Silva remained on the pitch, was also booked for continuing his complaints to the officials.
And had Mount, with an indirect free-kick after Ward’s back pass, or Havertz converted chances just before the break his half-time mood would have soured further.
The former Arsenal captain finished brilliantly on the swivel to pull his side back level after falling behind earlier in the game
Odsonne Edouard scored just his second of the season with his previously goal coming against Oxford in the Carabao Cup
The feisty edge between the two sides continued after the break with Kavanagh having a tough time at points retaining control as both sides had moments where they felt hard done by.
Opportunities were less forthcoming than niggly flashpoints though in the first part of the second half, with Ben Chilwell firing over and a heavy touch from Havertz preventing him having a better sight of goal following Mount’s brilliant reverse pass.
With 20 minutes left Palace burst into life. Michael Olise found just enough time and space down the right to look up and pick out Wilfried Zaha whose first-time shot was well-hit but close enough to Kepa, who kept it out but was fortunate the loose ball did not run to a Palace player.
Chelsea then threatened again when Sterling played in Mount who dragged his shot just wide of the near post.
Chelsea’s failure to score a second gave Palace late hope and they threatened in the final minutes but it was Gallagher who ended up having the last word when he curled a brilliant winner beyond Guaita’s fingertips and into the top corner.
Potter made a winning start to an October that sees his Blues are scheduled to play nine games in all competitions
Micahel Olise was the heartbeat of his Palace side and was involved in the majority of the Eagles’ highlights on Saturday
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3): Guaita 7; Clyne 6 (Tomkins 44, 6.5), Ward 6, Guehi 6.5, Mitchell 7; Olise 7, Doucoure 6.5 (Hughes 84), Eze 7.5 (Schlupp 74, 6); Ayew 7, Edouard 7 (Mateta 84), Zaha 6.
Scorer: Edouard 7
Booked: Edouard, Vieira, Ayew
Manager: Patrick Vieira 6
CHELSEA (4-2-2-2): Kepa 6; James 6, Fofana 5, Silva 6.5, Chilwell 6; Kovacic 6.5, Jorginho 5 (Loftus-Cheek 55, 6); Mount 7 (Pulisic 84); Havertz 6 (Gallagher 76); Aubameyang 7 (Broja 76), Sterling 6.
Scorer: Aubameyang 38, Gallagher 90
Booked: Silva, Kovacic
Manager: Graham Potter 7.5
Referee: Chris Kavanagh 5