Substitute Noni Madueke struck an 89th-minute penalty to send Chelsea back into the top half of the Premier League table with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.
The pressure was mounting on Mauricio Pochettino following a fourth straight away Premier League defeat at Wolves on Christmas Eve, but VAR Chris Kavanagh spotted a foul by Eberechi Eze on Madueke inside the box, allowing the youngster to dispatch a late winner from the spot.
Mykhailo Mudryk's early opener (13) was cancelled out by one-time Chelsea target Michael Olise on the stroke of half-time (45+1), before Nicolas Jackson's strike from Thiago Silva's deflected cross was ruled out by VAR.
But Chelsea and Madueke would find a way, as Palace – without a Premier League win in eight games – slumped to a 13th straight defeat in all competitions against their London rivals.
Palace sit in 15th place – three points above the relegation zone – and boss Roy Hodgson said, when asked about the penalty decision: “I'm tempted to say, what's the point? We have to accept there are two referees in the game.
“It happens and people will look at it themselves. But we are taking away the decision of those on the field and giving it to someone sat in front of a TV screen.
“It's not my obvious idea of what a penalty looks like. I'm conditioned to see how penalties are given and not given for many years. I've no real interest in discussing referees and VAR.”