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Chelsea produced a diligent performance to secure a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge despite a stubborn defensive effort from Aston Villa.
Blues manager Jose Mourinho had previously gone four Barclays Premier League games without registering a win over Villa, but he finally bucked that trend courtesy of Branislav Ivanovic's thumping header.
Chelsea made a flying start when Antonio Luna inadvertently scored past his own goalkeeper before Christian Benteke levelled proceedings on the stroke of half-time.
And it looked as though the home side would be frustrated until Ivanovic met Frank Lampard's free-kick with 17 minutes remaining.
Mourinho made two changes to the Chelsea team that beat Hull City on Sunday, with Juan Mata and Demba Ba replacing Kevin De Bruyne and Fernando Torres, the Spaniard omitted from the squad altogether.
Paul Lambert had to make one enforced change from the Villa side that opened with a win against Arsenal on Saturday, as Ciaran Clark came in for the injured Nathan Baker.
Chelsea started with intent and were rewarded for taking the match to their opponents after just six minutes. Oscar threaded a through-ball into the path of Eden Hazard on the left-hand side of the box and his curling effort was saved by Brad Guzan only to unluckily rebound off Luna and into the back of the net.
After a cautious start Villa had their first glimpse of goal in the 22nd minute when Benteke picked up the ball in midfield and laid it into the path of Karim El Ahmadi whose long-range effort veered wide.
But Chelsea were pegged back deep into first-half stoppage time. Gabriel Agbonlahor beat Ivanovic for pace on the left and picked out Benteke, who took one touch before firing a left-foot strike in off Petr Cech's near post.
The second half continued in a similar fashion with Chelsea enjoying the majority of the play but unable to break down a stubborn Villa defence. And they were nearly punished in the 61st minute when Matthew Lowton broke on the right and played a low pass that Benteke stepped over before Agbonlahor hit a first-time strike that curled just over the crossbar.
Just two minutes later and Villa once more came desperately close. Benteke picked up the ball on the left and crossed deep to the far post where Andreas Weimann connected well with a right-foot volley only to be denied by Cech.
Chelsea made a double change with Andre Schurrle and Romelu Lukaku replacing Mata and Ba and the changes sparked the home side into life when Ivanovic found the breakthrough in the 73rd minute.
Lampard played a teasing outswinging free-kick from the right and the Serbian defender timed his run well to head beyond Guzan.
There was almost time for one more twist when Weimann hit a half-volley from Benteke's assist but he was thwarted by another excellent reaction save by Cech.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: "This is English football, for some reason the world loves it more than any other league – one thing is [because of] a real aggression I would call it. Another thing is duels that are handled in a certain way and I think the referee did very well. From minute 1 to minute 95 there was a real fight – a football fight between Benteke and Ivanovic."
"Aston Villa created great difficulties and probably if Petr Cech did not save a shot at the far post from Weimann we don't even get a point. Villa have a special player with special qualities and they use him. The goalkeeper has a great kick and Benteke is fantastic in the first ball and they play from this.
"They have this and they have the counterattack and we handled the counterattack fantastically because we played with great balance. But the situation with Benteke it is difficult to control because you can't press the goalkeeper – he kicks the ball and after that everything is born from Benteke.
"The great thing today is Villa gave us a different match and we coped; defensively we were strong. We could do better with the ball and maybe my decision to change only two players for the start was not the best, maybe we should have had more fresh players, but we fought hard."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "I am so proud of my team. I thought they were absolutely outstanding. Petr Cech has kept them in the game. There have been some big, big European teams come here over the years but we've given them a right fright, there's no two ways about it.
"The lads are together. They're a really strong group, they are young lads with energy and pace. The character is always there but some of the football? I was really proud of them. Now we need to take this form on. We have had two games at Arsenal and Chelsea away. We should have taken more out of them. Then we have Liverpool.
"These are three incredibly hard, tough games but I think everyone who has seen Villa over the last two games will say they're a good side."
|19 Jan 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
|14 Sep 2013||v Everton (A)|
|28 Sep 2013||v Spurs (A)|
|14 Dec 2013||v Crystal Palace (H)|
|15 Mar 2014||v Aston Villa (A)|
|11 Feb 2014||v West Brom (A)|