Luna (og) 07’, Ivanovic 73’
ASTON VILLA 1
Man of the match
Fabian Delph (Aston Villa)
Jose Mourinho has two wins in as many games to start his second spell at Chelsea, but unlike the opening-day victory against Hull City, this was far from comfortable as his side rode their luck to take three points.
Branislav Ivanovic rose to head home the winner on 73 minutes, but the Serbian defender could easily have been sent off minutes earlier for elbowing Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke in the face.
John Terry got away with a handball in the box in the last minute and Paul Lambert’s Villa, having beaten Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on the opening weekend, deserved to have come away with at least one more point from a second trip to London in five days.
As it is, Chelsea now go to Old Trafford on Monday with a chance to move six points clear of Manchester United with a win.
Lambert, perhaps wary that his side lost 8-0 in this fixture last season, set Villa up to sit back and play counter-attack football. However, that game plan came undone after just seven minutes.
Oscar’s through ball found Eden Hazard in space behind the backline down Villa’s left. The Belgium midfielder took the pass in his stride and his curled shot across goal was saved by Brad Guzan, but rebounded back off left-back Antonio Luna into the net. It was the Spaniard’s second goal in two games for Villa, but this one came at the wrong end.
Despite finding themselves a goal down so early on, Villa’s mentality did not really change, with Benteke foraging on his own up front. It restricted Chelsea to few chances. The problem was, their defensive outlook rendered Villa toothless in attack. That was, until Chelsea fell asleep on the stroke of half time.
Gabriel Agbonlahor outpaced Ivanovic and crossed to Benteke. The Belgian striker, who had looked out of sorts, came to life and showed his class, controlling with his right foot and producing a lethal finish with his left that went in off the post for his third goal of the season.
The confidence boost Villa took from the goal was evident in their adventurous start to the second half and they had a chance to go ahead when Andreas Weimann forced Petr Cech into his first save of the night.
Mourinho had seen enough and brought Romelu Lukaku and Andre Schurrle on for Demba Ba and Juan Mata. Lukaku’s extra physical presence forced a free kick from which Chelsea retook the lead.
Frank Lampard whipped in a delivery and Ivanovic – who minutes earlier had twice appeared to catch Benteke with an elbow – found space to head home from close range.
Villa forced Cech into another fine save, this time as Weimann found space on the left of the box, and there was a penalty appeal as a cross hit Terry’s hand, before Chelsea could claim the three points.
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