Tuesday 31 December 2013
Stiliyan Petrov and Darren Bent scored in the final eight minutes to hand Aston Villa a late victory that dented Chelsea’s bid for a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League.
The win, Villa’s first in the Barclays Premier League for four fixtures, lifted them into the top half of the table but increased Chelsea's winless run to four matches – dropping them out of the top four in the process.
The Blues had taken the lead midway through the first half with Didier Drogba's 150th goal for the club. The striker swept home a penalty after he had been fouled by Richard Dunne.
But their advantage lasted just five minutes as Stephen Ireland equalised at the second attempt after a good run by Charles N'Zogbia.
Drogba put three more efforts wide while, at the other end, Ciaran Clark and Gabriel Agbonlahor each had a chance to put the visitors ahead.
"It's my most satisfying day so far"
Chelsea threw on Fernando Torres as a 62nd-minute substitute and he thundered a shot against the bar soon afterwards.
Villa's counter-attacking style and persistence finally paid off when they scored for the second time in the 83rd minute – Petrov the man on target this time after a through ball from Clark.
Chelsea poured forward in search of the equaliser but paid the price as Bent capitalised on a misplaced pass from substitute Frank Lampard and unselfish play from Ireland to score his sixth League goal of the season and clinch the victory for Villa.
"It's my most satisfying day so far but I'm hoping there are many more to come," said Villa manager Alex McLeish. "The players can enjoy this tonight in terms of confidence levels."
After their third home League defeat of the season, Chelsea head coach Andre Villas-Boas said: "We don't have that winning consistency to take us past the December fixtures fighting for the title. The minimum for a club like this is first place but that is fantasy – our reality at the moment is a fourth-place finish."
While Chelsea missed out on the UEFA Champions League places on offer in the Barclays Premier League by finishing sixth – they qualified for the following season's tournament by winning the Champions League itself in May 2012, after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Bayern Munich in the final.
Villa meanwhile came 16th, avoiding relegation by two points.