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Chelsea 2 - Aston Villa 1: A Bridge too far

Villa were shot down at Stamford Bridge tonight - here’s the recap

Chelsea FC v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

After a short hiatus away from regular visits to Premier League grounds, Villa returned to Stamford Bridge in their first match there since October 2015.

It’d be a lie to say that Aston Villa started off well - they didn’t. Chelsea’s press hassled Villa back into their own half, and killed any chance of a decent attack. When Villa did find the ball - they couldn’t spark anything meaningful via Jack Grealish or Conor Hourihane.

A dominant Chelsea team countered dangerously, and former Villa man Tammy Abraham found space in the Villa box a number of times, only to be tackled at the last second before he pulled off a shot. However, the trend was clear - Abraham was going to score.

And he did. A distracted Ezri Konsa was pulled away from Abraham, who put Chelsea into the lead with a a free header that could do nothing else but sail past Tom Heaton. A stout Tammy refused to celebrate, but Stamford Bridge erupted in glee on his behalf.

Chelsea continued to push Aston Villa back - and were unlucky not to create another scoring chance after Hourihane gave the ball away. Abraham’s pass to Pulisic was blocked by Matt Targett in an incident that seemed to be caused more by luck than anything else.

There had been a bit of spice in this match as well. Frank Lampard confronted Jack Grealish after Grealish sent Mateo Kovacic sprawling into the advertising banners - while John McGinn was lucky to avoid a booking after kicking at Willian.

By the 35th minute, Villa were fading fast. However, after struggling to involve Trezeguet and Wesley, they did manage to create an equaliser in unexpected circumstances. A quick-fire combination from Jack Grealish and John McGinn found Ahmed Elmohamady. The Egyptian full-back, rotated in for the suspended Frederic Guilbert, fired a trademark cross over the head of Wesley into the feet of Trezeguet. Trezeguet shook off Reece James, and bundled the ball into the net with his head, his right foot and then his left foot to take his club into the break equal with Chelsea.

Unfortunately, Villa were sent back to square one not three minutes into the return. Their equality was quickly dispatched through Mason Mount. Abraham chested the ball to him, and the Chelsea playmaker rifled it into the roof of the net - completely unchallenged by the Villa, bar Ezri Konsa who tried to block the low shot. Mount went high.

Chelsea almost scored directly after - but Ahmed Elmohamady did just enough to trick Tammy Abraham, who would’ve had a free shot at the goal if he didn’t fall for Elmo’s ploy of ducking under the ball as it crossed the face of goal. The early second half was a story in which Villa were bit-part players as Chelsea simply passed the ball around for fun. Tom Heaton did his best to keep Villa alive by stopping a Willian shot in stupendous fashion as the Brazilian danced into the box before pulling the trigger. At the other end of the pitch, Villa’s luck in front of goal dried up. Jack Grealish failed to hit a volley, and Matt Targett was booked shortly after. Chelsea’s dominance continued into the 75th minute, as Tammy found two scoring chances but was unable to beat Tom Heaton on either of them.

Neither was Willian able to beat him either. A Chelsea free-kick promised to extend their lead as Willian found the top corner, but not before Heaton was able to touch it onto the post to prevent a certain goal.

Later on, Tammy Abraham left the game to applause from all sides of the ground after succumbing to an injury. He had enjoyed freedom up-front and was certainly unlucky not to extend his goal tally on the night against the club he had succeeded with just a season before.

Villa’s best chance to take a point home was denied by Kepa in the Chelsea goal - who somehow managed to deny Douglas Luiz’s darting header which seemed to be creeping into the bottom corner.

Despite a late fightback, Villa couldn’t beat time and Chelsea stood out as winners, with Villa leaving Stamford Bridge - and not for the first time - with nothing.