Chelsea sealed a top four spot courtesy of a 2-1 win over Aston Villa in a match that will probably be remembered for one great player – Frank Lampard. The Chelsea midfielder broke Bobby Tambling’s goal record in impressive fashion, while once again proving that he is almost irreplaceable.
The day started pretty badly for Chelsea, as a combination of defensive errors led to Christian Benteke’s opening goal. Gary Cahill and Petr Cech will certainly not be happy looking back at the goal. Villa Park has been a bogey ground for Chelsea, and for much of the first half, it looked like it will retain their status.
Villa were playing on the counter-attack, but they were quite impressive in defence in the first half. They pressed the ball really well and did not allow Chelsea space.
The second half, though, started brightly after Benitez made the change by bringing David Luiz for the ineffective Victor Moses. Even though Luiz had a pass accuracy of just 72%, his physical presence brought about a significant change. Up until that moment, Lampard and Ramires were dominated physically by Villa’s midfield.
It was time for Lampard to start doing what he does best – score goals. His first was a brilliant run and shot from the left foot in the 61st minute. Not only did it equalise the match, but it also put Lampard level with Tambling on 202 goals.
Chelsea had a perfectly legitimate goal from Cahill disallowed later in the match, although it did remind Chelsea fans of the ghost goal against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final last year.
The big moment, though, came in the 88th minute, as Lampard’s goal sealed a memorable three points. The win puts Chelsea six points – and a massively superior goal difference – clear of Tottenham. Unless Tottenham win their next match 16-0, it is guaranteed that Chelsea will have Champions League football in the 2013-14 season.
Villa (4-3-3): Guzan, Lichaj, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett, Sylla, Westwood, Delph, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry (Ivanovic 76), Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Hazard, Mata, Moses (David Luiz 88), Ba (Torres 87)
Villa – Benteke 14
Chelsea – Lampard 60, 88
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