Chelsea sneak past Villa
Oscar and Eden Hazard (Getty Images)
London - Chelsea overcame obdurate opposition from Aston Villa to secure a
hard-fought 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday that maintained
their early momentum in the fledgling English Premiership season.
2-0 victors over Hull City in their opening game on Sunday, Chelsea had
to dig much deeper against Paul Lambert's side but eventually prevailed
through a header from Branislav Ivanovic with 17 minutes to play.
against Hull, Chelsea had taken an early lead, this time through an own
goal from Antonio Luna, but Villa refused to roll over and claimed an
equaliser on the stroke of half-time when Christian Benteke lashed home.
in an occasionally ill-tempered game, brought forward due to Chelsea's
involvement in the UEFA Super Cup on August 30, will give Jose Mourinho
enhanced belief that his side are ready for the battle sure to await
them at Manchester United on Monday.
Villa manager Lambert,
meanwhile, will take solace from the doggedness of his side's display,
four days on from their shock 3-1 win at Arsenal and eight months after a
humiliating 8-0 defeat on the same pitch.
Mourinho made two
changes to the team that beat Hull, introducing Demba Ba and Juan Mata
in place of Kevin De Bruyne and Fernando Torres, while Ciaran Clark
replaced the injured Nathan Baker at centre-back for Villa.
Chelsea had taken the lead after 13 minutes against Hull and they were just as quick off the mark against Villa.
This time the visiting team held out for only seven minutes, although there was more than a touch of fortune about the goal.
released Eden Hazard with an incisive pass down the inside-left channel
and although Brad Guzan parried the Belgian's shot, the ball bounced
off inrushing defender Luna and into the net.
Despite the early
goal, Chelsea were not nearly as dominant as they had been against Hull
and Villa might have equalised sooner had Andreas Weimann not completely
miscued his header from Luna's cross in the 20th minute.
was a blow for the visitors shortly before half-time, as Clark had to go
off after an inadvertent kick from Ba left him with blood streaming
down his face. New signing Jores Okore came on in his place.
finished the half with a stoppage-time flourish, however, as Gabriel
Agbonlahor powered down the left flank before squaring for Benteke to
smash home an equaliser off the left-hand post.
Villa's tactic of
withdrawing 10 men behind the ball when Chelsea had possession
frustrated the hosts, and Agbonlahor almost put Villa ahead on the hour
with a first-time curler that cleared the crossbar by inches.
Benteke then picked out Weimann for a volley that Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech had to deflect behind at his near post.
volume inside the stadium rose as the intensity of the on-pitch
challenges increased and the noise reached a crescendo in the 73rd
minute when Ivanovic met Lampard's deep free-kick with a bullet header
to put Chelsea ahead.
Villa created one golden chance for a second
equaliser, but when Benteke's knock-down fell to Weimann in the 86th
minute, Cech came to the rescue by blocking with his legs.
was an even bigger scare for the hosts in injury time, when the ball
appeared to strike John Terry's arm inside the Chelsea box, but referee
Kevin Friend did not put his whistle to his lips and Mourinho's men
English Premier League result on Wednesday:
Chelsea 2 (Luna 7-og, Ivanovic 73) Aston Villa 1 (Benteke 45+3)
Note: This match was brought forward due to Chelsea's involvement in the UEFA Super Cup on August 30.