Aston Villa 1 v Chelsea 2
Olivier Giroud scores the decisive goal that secured all three points for the Blues in a turnaround 2-1 win over Aston Villa, and more importantly consolidated their fourth place in the Premier League.
Chelsea are now five points clear of fifth placed Manchester Untied with Wolves level.
The Blues are now just three point away from third place Leicester City.
But the west Londoners had to come from behind after relegation-haunted Villa took a surprise lead two minutes from the half-time break.
But in a two-minute spell substitute Christian Pulisic pulled a goal back with Giroud’s fine turn and shot securing the vital win.
After a dour start where the Blues dominated possession, Mason Mount had the first effort on goal by either side, on 15 minutes when his thunderous 25-yard left-footer forced Orjan Nyland into a fine, diving save to his left.
Mateo Kovacic was next up to test Nyland who fluffed the long-range shot but scooped it up at the second attempt.
Villa had their first goal-bound effort, a minute later on 32 minutes, but Kepa showed strong hands to parry away Keinan Davis’s shot, while John McGinn flicked a header inches wide as the home side asserted themselves for the first time in the game.
Mason Mount weaved his way through the Villa rearguard on 40 minutes. His cross was inches wide of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who slid in at the far post.
Willian cut in from the right, but his left footer sailed high and wide of Nyland’s crossbar.
But two minutes from the break, Chelsea were mugged and conceded when Douglas Luiz crossed into the Chelsea area, and while Kepa could only parry the ball out, it fell to Kortney Hause, who slotted home from close range.
Marcos Alonso and Kovacic have excellent chances to equalise before the break, the Spain defender had a goal-bound effort headed wide, while Kovacic saw a blaster go inches wide.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
A glancing header by Cesar Azpilicueta from a Willian right wing cross rattled the side-netting.
US wide man Christian Pulisic entered the fray along with Ross Barkley on 55 minutes - off came Kovacic and Loftus-Cheek.
The replacements worked perfectly on 61 minutes when a fine far Prost cross by Azpilicueta found Pulisic who smashed the ball home from close range.
Seconds later and Olivier Giroud finished off a smart move when he turn and shot to hammer the ball past Nyland to turn the game around and put the west Londoners into the lead.
Tammy Abraham who scored 26 goals for Villa on loan in the Championship portion season, came on with 10 minutes to go - goal hero Giroud made way.
Willian produced a blistering right-footer on 84 minutes, Nyland tipped the ball over the crossbar.
Jota almost equalised when Christensen failed to control a simple ball. The substitute’s low, left-footer flashed across Kepa’s goal and was inches wide of his left post.
Reece James replaced Willian, as Frank Lampard opted to consolidate his defence and the Blues ran the five-minutes of additional play comfortably.
Next up for Chelsea is a tough-looking home match on Thursday against Manchester City.
Chelsea, Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Christensen, Rudiger, Mount, Kovacic, Willian, Loftus-Cheek, Giroud, Kante,
Subs: Caballero, Barkley, Abraham, Pedro, Zouma, Pulisic, James, Emerson, Gilmour
Aston Villa: Nyland, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Grealish, Hourihan, Ngoyo, Targett, El Ghazi, Hause, Davis, Mings
Subs: Reina, Taylor, Nakamba, Trezeguet, Bastn, Samatta, Jota, El Mahamady, Vassilev
Referee: Paul Tierney