Aston Villa 2-4 Chelsea
Last Updated: Sat, 31 Mar 2012 17:14
Branislav Ivanovic hit a brace as Chelsea claimed victory to take maximum points in a goalfest at Villa Park.
The pre-match build-up was all about Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov, diagnosed this week with acute leukaemia, and both sides wore T-shirts in support of him during the warm-up.
Once the game was underway, though, with Petrov watching from the stands, Villa struggled to cope with a confident and composed Chelsea side.
And it was no surprise when they took the lead, Daniel Sturridge tapping the ball home after Fernando Torres' blocked effort fell to him.
Chelsea doubled their lead five minutes after the restart, the inspirational Ivanovic continuing his scoring streak by tapping home from close range from a Juan Mata corner.
Alex Mcleish brought on Marc Albrighton, a move that injected a little more pace into the Villa side as they came back into the game.
James Collins grabbed the first of two goals in quick succession for the home side, the defender directing a glancing header past Petr Cech on 70 minutes. 10 minutes later Eric Lichaj met Albrighton's cross to steal in behind Ashley Cole and tap in from three yards out.
Remarkably it was now Villa who looked the likelier of the two teams to grab the next goal, but Chelsea re-took the lead just three minutes later. Again, it was Ivanovic for the Blues, the defender heading home after a neat flick-on from a corner from Torres. That was before Torres broke his Premiership drought when he peeled off his man and slammed the ball home.
The result will give the Blues renewed hope of finishing the campaign in the top four, but for Villa, anxious times await as they prepare for a potential relegation scrap.