Villa stun Chelsea in thriller
Two goals in three second half minutes leave Chelsea shell-shocked
By Razwan Mirza. Last Updated: 31/12/11 8:02pm
Stephen Ireland produced a man of the match display scoring a goal as Aston Villa beat Chelsea
Aston Villa recorded their first win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for 10 seasons to all-but end the Blues' Premier League title bid thanks to a 3-1 victory.
Chelsea took the lead through Didier Drogba, but Villa hit back thanks to goals from Stephen Ireland, Stiliyan Petrov and Darren Bent to record only their second away win of the campaign.
Chelsea opened the scoring after 23 minutes thanks to a late Christmas gift from the visitors.
Richard Dunne brought down Drogba with a clumsy challenge and the Ivory Coast striker picked himself up to squeeze home his 150th Chelsea goal. It was also Drogba's sixth goal in 12 games against their opponents.
However, just five minutes after the goal, Villa stunned Stamford Bridge by restoring parity much to the delight of the away support.
Charles N'Zogbia weaved his magic down the left before pulling the ball back for Ireland, whose first effort was blocked on the line by the right hand of John Terry, but the Irishman man buried the rebound after referee Mark Halsey allowed play to go on.
Ireland reeled away as he celebrated scoring his first goal for the club and his first since scoring for Manchester City back in November 2009.
Gabby Agbonlahor should have given Villa the lead on his 200th appearance for the club just before the hour mark when he was put clean through on goal by N'Zogbia, but was denied thanks to a brave stop by Petr Cech.
Fernando Torres was introduced into the action soon after and he came within inches of restoring Chelsea's lead but was denied by the crossbar with Brad Guzan left clutching at thin air.
But Villa stole the points with two break away goals in three minutes.
Chelsea got caught all at sea when Ciaran Clark picked out the run of Petrov and the midfielder kept his composure to slot the ball into the far corner after 83 minutes.
And, things soon went from bad to worse minutes later as Frank Lampard's poor pass was picked off by Ireland who set up Bent to slot home his fifth goal in 11 appearances against Chelsea.
The Blues have now taken just three of the last 12 points on offer and have dropped out of the top four while Villa moved up to ninth heading into 2012.
Chelsea had been boosted before kick-off by the news of Manchester United's shock home defeat to Blackburn as they sought to end a run of three straight draws and keep their fading championship hopes alive.
They were immediately on the attack and James Collins stopped Juan Mata testing Brad Guzan from close range.
But the hosts were soon grateful themselves when David Luiz did enough to prevent Agbonlahor getting a clean header on Marc Albrighton's cross.
Both sides began giving the ball away before Ireland wasted a great chance to slide in Albrighton, with Villa belying their recent run of one win in seven.
But they shot themselves in the foot in the 22nd minute when Dunne lunged in on Drogba and referee Halsey awarded a penalty.
Drogba stepped up to score straight down the middle, going level on 150 Chelsea goals with Roy Bentley and Peter Osgood, who is buried under the Shed End penalty spot.
But as against Fulham on Boxing Day, the Blues conceded less than 10 minutes after taking the lead.
N'Zogbia got to the byline and cut the ball back for Ireland, whose shot was blocked on the line by Terry - possibly by a hand - straight back to the midfielder, who slotted home his first goal for Villa and first for more than two years.
It was the perfect response by the midfielder to his Twitter troubles after manager Alex McLeish admonished him for being pictured apparently smoking a Shisha pipe.
Terry was then booked for clattering into Agbonlahor on the halfway line before Stephen Warnock threw himself forward to block Mata's shot.
Chelsea started the second half as they did the first, Daniel Sturridge close to connecting with Mata's low cross.
But Villa remained a threat and Collins almost inadvertently bundled home N'Zogbia's free-kick before Agbonlahor missed a glorious 53rd minute chance on the break.
The visitors burst forward after a Chelsea attack, perfectly exploiting a three-on-one to release Agbonlahor, whose finish was too close to Cech.
Villas-Boas threw on the axed Frank Lampard for Oriol Romeu four minutes later, moments before Agbonlahor dragged another chance wide.
Mata almost conjured up a chance for Sturridge with some magical wing play, with the latter immediately replaced by Torres.
The Spaniard, who had also been dropped, was desperately unlucky not to make an instant impact, crashing a 30-yard shot against the crossbar - possibly via a deflection.
Ashley Cole had a handball appeal against Dunne waved away by Halsey, who did then book Carlos Cuellar for a robust tackle on Drogba.
There was some light relief when a fan invaded the pitch and proceeded to hug Terry before being ejected as Chelsea poured forward.
Drogba fired Torres' through ball wide, with Jose Bosingwa then replacing Paulo Ferreira for the final 15 minutes, the substitute immediately testing Guzan from 25 yards.
Villa sent on Bent and Gary Gardner for N'Zogbia and Albrighton but remained on the back foot until dramatically taking the lead seven minutes from time.
Clark was allowed to carry the ball forward and Petrov ran into what was mammoth gap between Terry and Luiz to clip the ball over Cech.
Petrov limped off injured with Barry Bannan coming on and it was game over three minutes later, Lampard's pass intercepted by Ireland, who burst forward and squared for Bent to beat the onrushing Cech.
Chelsea were jeered off by their own fans, who will be hoping for much better in 2012.
|Chelsea||Team Statistics||Aston Villa|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|2||Shots on Target||7|
|13||Shots off Target||2|
|58.4||1st Half Poss.||41.6|
|65.6||2nd Half Poss.||34.4|
Barclays Premier League
|16||West Bromwich Albion||16||15|
|17||West Ham United||16||14|