For match photos, scroll to PHOTOSTREAM above left; for match stats go to the stats tab. Manager reaction below; press conferences above.
Fabian Delph's late winner meant Aston Villa dealt a huge blow to nine-man Chelsea's Barclays Premier League title hopes with a shock 1-0 triumph.
The midfielder showed a piece of ingenuity in the 82nd minute to turn home substitute Marc Albrighton's centre and hand Paul Lambert's side three points at Villa Park.
Jose Mourinho had stated that Manchester City were favourites to lift the Barclays Premier League trophy during the week, and his side failed to break down a resolute Villa defence.
Chelsea's efforts were not helped by two red cards. Willian was shown sent off for a second bookable offence in the 68th minute before Ramires was also dismissed in stoppage time for a reckless challenge on Karim El Ahmadi. Chelsea still retain a six-point lead over second-placed City, although Manuel Pellegrini's men have three matches in hand to cut the gap, while Villa's win lifts them to 10th.
The visiting side had Villa largely pinned back in their own half in the opening 10 minutes, but the visitors were almost exposed by a Villa counter-attack that ended with Christian Benteke heading Delph's cross wide. Mourinho's men were comfortable in possession, however, with Oscar looking lively. The Brazilian curled a shot just wide after 15 minutes as he ventured forward.
After a promising opening, the game went into a bit of a lull, but it was Chelsea who continued to look the more likely to score and Fernando Torres fired wide from a tight angle after a neat through-ball from Eden Hazard after 35 minutes. Villa's biggest threat was on the counter, and the lively Benteke saw his acrobatic half-volley from the right of the box fly wide of the far post.
The home side had a huge let-off five minutes before the break. Willian's corner was flicked to the back post by John Terry, where Nemanja Matic squeezed the ball home, only for referee Chris Foy to rule the goal out for a handball by the Serb.
Chelsea continued to dictate the tempo after the break, and Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan had to make a smart reaction stop when El Ahmadi directed Hazard's cross towards goal when sliding to make a block. The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Chelsea continuing to probe but failing to find a way through a stern Villa rearguard.
Villa retained a foothold in the game, and Benteke could have done better when he received a pass from Andreas Weimann on the edge of the area and placed a shot narrowly wide of Petr Cech's goal.
With just over 20 minutes remaining Chelsea were reduced to 10 men. Willian, who had been booked in the first half, challenged Delph unfairly and was shown a second yellow card. The hosts made the most of their numerical advantage when Albrighton's cut-back from the byline went behind Delph, but the midfielder flicked home into the far corner.
Delph went close to a second when his shot was deflected onto the crossbar by Terry, before Chelsea's match ended worse when Ramires was sent off for a lunging tackle on El Ahmadi, while Mourinho was sent to the stands for his protests.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "If people are going to comment on decisions, they will do, but the football fan and people that are honest will say we deserved to win that game. I’m here to talk about the game because that deflects [from the result]. I’m here to talk about football and the good things against a side that cost millions and to do that is a huge, huge effort."
"The goal was world-class, the energy was terrific. That's probably the best we've had in terms of a team performance more than anything else. The whole team performed outstanding which they had to be as they’re a top, top team – they’re vying to win the league, they’re vying for the Champions League.
"We had to get three points, or try and get three points. I knew it was always going to be tough. We had to do a lot of work and the lads energy levels have totally gone."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: "A good solid performance against a good team. Defensively we were really strong. We had no problems to deal with the danger that Aston Villa has. We are not in a title, we are in a match race. We play every match, we try to win, we give everything to win. Sometime you do, sometimes you don't.”
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|29 Mar 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|05 Apr 2014||v Fulham (H)|
|12 Apr 2014||v Crystal Palace (A)|
|19 Apr 2014||v Southampton (H)|
|26 Apr 2014||v Swansea (A)|