Two goals in two minutes saw Chelsea claim a 2-1 win at Villa Park on Sunday evening in their Premier League return.
The Blues dominated the majority of play but it was actually the hosts who went into the break ahead, with Kourtney Hause netting from close range after Kepa had saved his initial effort. Chelsea’s dominance finally paid out in the second-half as two goals from Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud put them in the lead with just under half an hour remaining, claiming a vital win in their push for Champions League football.
Nyland keeps the scores level
Despite a low-key opening to proceedings, Villa stopper Orjan Nyland had to remain alert to tip away Mason Mount’s powerful effort from just outside of the area. Mateo Kovacic then tried his luck from a similar position, the goalkeeper this time fumbling the Croatian’s strike but managing to collect at the second attempt.
Following those couple of opportunities, the hosts finally had their own openings. Anwar El Ghazi set his sights from range but Kepa parried, before John McGinn headed wide when presented with a tantalising cross.
Hause gives Villa shock lead
The hosts eventually claimed the lead just minutes before the break through Hause completely against the run of play. Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz whipped an excellent, first-time ball into the Chelsea box, which the Villa man managed to connect with. Despite getting his shot on target, Kepa saved well but only served to parry it straight to the former Wolverhampton Wanderers man, who composed himself and tucked the ball away at the second time of asking.
Their lead lasted just 15 minutes after the break however as the Blues equalised from an as equally excellent cross. Cesar Azpilicueta whipped the ball into substitute Christian Pulisic, who finished into the roof of the net with an excellent finish.
Giroud completes turnaround
They got another just a couple of minutes as Villa crumbled once again. A great exchange between Giroud, Mason Mount and Azpilicueta saw Chelsea tear into the Villa box. The Spaniard then played an excellent centre to the Chelsea forward, who took a touch, turned and buried the ball beyond Nyland for just his third Premier League goal of the campaign.
There was a late chance for Villa to even seal a point as Andreas Christensen misjudged a bounce in the penalty area, allowing the ball to run on towards substitute Jota but he pulled his low shot wide of Kepa’s goal, condemning the hosts to another defeat and pushing them even closer to relegation.
This was a well-deserved win for Chelsea. The West Londoners were the dominant force in the Midlands and it would have been unjust had Villa earned anything. Dean Smith’s men struggled to create any real chances of note, a problem that has been common as they look likely to fall back into the Championship next season.
Aston Villa: Nyland (6); Targett (6), Hause (7), Mings (6), Konsa (5); McGinn (6) (Jota (N/A), 87′), Luiz (6), Hourihane (7) (Nakamba (5), 70′); Grealish (6), Davis (6) (Samatta (6), 57′), El Ghazi (7) (Trezeguet (5), 70′).
Chelsea: Kepa (6); Alonso (6), Christensen (6), Rudiger (7), Azpilicueta (8); Kovacic (6) (Barkley (6), 55′), Kante (7), Loftus-Cheek (6) (Pulisic (7), 55′); Mount (6), Willian (7) (James (N/A), 90′), Giroud (7) (Abraham (N/A), 80′).
Goals: Hause (43′), Pulisic (60′), Giroud (62′)
Referee: Paul Tierney
Yellow Cards: Konsa (45′), Grealish (90+6′)
Red Cards: N/A