Cole Palmer was delighted his goal helped us to an important victory for our chances of European qualification at Brighton and believes achieving that target would be a clear sign of progress by Chelsea this season.

Chelsea emerged as 2-1 winners on our final away trip of 2023/24 at Brighton & Hove Albion, with Cole Palmer opening the scoring in the first half with a brilliant looping header from Marc Cucurella’s cross.

Christopher Nkunku, on from the bench to replace Mykhailo Mudryk following a first-half head injury, then calmly turned in Malo Gusto’s low cross to make it two, and we were able to hold on for the win at the end despite being reduced to 10 men by a red card for Reece James and the home side pulling one back in stoppage time.

That victory lifted us above Newcastle United into sixth place in the Premier League table, which would be enough to guarantee European football next season regardless of the outcome of the FA Cup final, if we are still there at the end of Sunday’s last round of fixtures.

Palmer is well aware of the significance of that, being pleased his goal helped take us closer to a place in Europe and what would be a clear sign of progress, but also knows himself and Chelsea both have larger long-term goals in mind.

‘We needed the three points,’ said Palmer. ‘It was hard towards the end and throughout the match, but to get the three points and for it to be in our hands to get sixth place is big for us. Hopefully we can do it.

‘Chelsea is a big club, everyone wants to finish higher than sixth, but we have to look at where we’ve been at the start of the season, throughout the season.

‘We’ve been 13th and 12th this season. Last season was the same, so to get back into Europe is a step in the right direction.

‘Big credit to the manager because all the players love him, we’ve got to fight for him. It’s been a good season and hopefully we can get European football at the end of it.’

Palmer also discussed his own form, after netting the 22nd Premier League goal of his debut campaign with the Blues, meaning he has already matched club legend Frank Lampard’s best tally for a season - set in 2009/10, his ninth year with Chelsea - at the first attempt.

‘The header was all right! Marc knows where I’m going to be and he had a look up before he crossed it. Thankfully I lifted it over the goalkeeper and it went in.

‘Getting 22 goals in the Premier League is a big achievement. Obviously Lampard is one of the best Chelsea players in history, but hopefully I can keep going.

‘It’s my first season but I’ve got to keep pushing on. It might be tough to get more next season, but I will give it a go!’

Our No20 concluded with praise for the scorer of our other goal at Brighton. Nkunku hasn’t been able to make the same kind of impact in his first season with Chelsea due to long spells ruled out by injury, but came on to score the winner in this match, giving the travelling Blues supporters a taste of what he could produce on a regular basis in the future.

‘Everyone knows his quality, even from Leipzig, before he came here. He’s been unlucky with injuries but if he can get firing and get fit you saw what he can do out there last night.

‘So I think next season everyone will see how good he actually is.’