Chelsea crash to Villa defeat
Chelsea's Villa Park jinx continued as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa.
By Peter Fraser
Last Updated: 03/09/07 11:12am
Aston Villa fan Zat Knight scored on his debut to help his new side shatter Chelsea's seven-month unbeaten Premier League record with a 2-0 win.
Knight, a £3.5million capture from Fulham, headed in the opening goal after 47 minutes and then with two minutes left Gabriel Agbonlahor made sure of victory with a second goal.
Defeat cost Chelsea the chance to regain top spot in the table from Liverpool, who were the last side to defeat the Blues in the league back in January.
Chelsea, however, have been jinxed at Villa Park and they have now not triumphed there in eight seasons.
Jose Mourinho's side enjoyed far more possession but they struggled to create clear-cut openings against a well drilled Villa.
Martin Laursen, after an uncertain opening, had an excellent game at the heart of the home defence despite being given a difficult afternoon by Didier Drogba.
There was a desperation about Chelsea's play in the second half, but they only mustered two shots on target throughout the 90 minutes.
An increasing worry for Chelsea was that Drogba had to be helped off the pitch at the final whistle after suffering a leg injury.
Chelsea had begun positively and had a strong claim for a penalty when Laursen appeared to bring Shaun Wright-Phillips down in the area, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved the protests.
Drogba was operating as the only out-and-out striker for Chelsea, but they attacked with purpose and pace in the early stages.
However, it was Chelsea keeper Petr Cech who was called upon to make the first meaningful save when Ashley Young, who was a threat throughout, produced a dangerous ball into the near post and picked out Agbonlahor who spun sharply and had his powerful left-footed drive parried away by Cech.
Chelsea, though, were soon back on the offensive and skipper John Terry was only just too high with a header from Florent Malouda's curling corner.
Then Villa keeper Scott Carson was twice called into action to save low drives from Michael Essien and Wright-Phillips.
But Agbonlahor would have been disappointed to send a low attempt straight at Cech with no real power after the ball had rebounded off Alex.
Then the England Under 21 striker out jumped Ashley Cole to make contact with a Gareth Barry cross but his header went wide of the target.
Villa began the second half on the offensive and Cech tipped over a curling effort from Young after John Carew had laid the ball back into his path.
Then after 47 minutes Knight celebrated his debut by putting Martin O'Neill's side in front.
Barry supplied the inswinging corner and Knight, who last weekend scored an own goal on the same ground in his last league match for Fulham, rose above Drogba to head past Cech.
Ashley Cole tried to keep out the downward header but could only help it over the line.
Mourinho's instant response was to take off Mikel and bring on Claudio Pizarro as he reverted from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 formation and Chelsea launched an offensive onslaught.
Drogba showed great skill to spin past Laursen and race into the Villa box but Mellberg did well to cut out his low centre.
Mourinho then brought on Joe Cole and Salomon Kalou for Wright-Phillips and Claude Makelele and it was one-way traffic towards the Villa goal and Terry was only just too high with a powerful header from a Joe Cole corner.
But the Blues were still struggling to create clear-cut openings for all their lengthy spells of possession.
Then with two minutes left Agbonlahor turned home Young's cross from the left flank to settle the issue.
|Aston Villa||Team Statistics||Chelsea|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|5||Shots off Target||13|