Brave Villa Hold Blues (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 1 Aston Villa 1 

Michael Essien in action against Aston VillaAston Villa extended their unbeaten run with a 1-1 draw against leaders Chelsea.

Didier Drogba opened the scoring for The Blues in just the second minute and Chelsea dominated for long periods, but Villa battled hard and claimed a point courtesy of Gabriel Agbonlahor's header.

Martin O'Neill has worked wonders at Villa since taking charge in the summer and he would have been relishing the prospect of masterminding Chelsea's downfall, but the game-plan he had implemented was in need of review after less than two minutes when Drogba fired the champions ahead.

Arjen Robben floated a cross towards the back post and, under pressure from John Terry, Thomas Sorensen dropped the ball at Drogba's feet. Olof Mellberg and Liam Ridgewell desperately tried to clear, but the Ivorian managed to scramble the ball into the net to continue his purple patch.

Villa looked rattled and were left chasing shadows for the next ten minutes as Chelsea stamped their authority on the game with some lovely, fluent football.

Frank Lampard came close to doubling their advantage with a stunning long-range effort which appeared to fly just wide following a fingertip save from Sorensen, although no corner was awarded.

Gradually Villa recovered their composure and gained a foothold in midfield, and it was Stilian Petrov who had their first shot on goal when he left both Terry and Ricardo Carvalho grounded with a clever dummy and then forced Petr Cech into a diving save from 25 yards.

Juan Pablo Angel also shot a volley high and wide, as the game started to fluctuate from end to end.

Chelsea's biggest threat was undoubtedly Robben, who combined his pace and skill with a tremendous work-rate to terrorise the Villa defence.

After battling past two players down the left wing Robben cut the ball back to Lampard, but the Englishman's left-foot strike was superbly palmed away by Sorensen's instinctive save.

Sorensen was then tested again when Michael Essien flicked his head at a corner, while Drogba also kept him busy with another shot from outside the box.

Chelsea were made to rue Sorensen's good form on the stroke of half time as Agbonlahor headed Villa level.

Petrov sprayed the ball out to Ridgewell on the left and the defender played a delightfully cushioned header into the centre, where Agbonlahor rose unmarked to nod the ball past Cech and into the bottom corner.

Chelsea responded strongly as the second half got underway, and Robben almost scored with a sensational effort from wide on the left, which required Sorensen to tip over.

As the game progressed Villa became firmly entrenched in their own half, and they only broke out occasionally through the electric pace of Agbonlahor.

Andrei Shevchenko, playing well in a selfless role, created a chance for Essien following a fine run down the right. The Ghanaian drew yet another good save from Sorensen with an angled drive, and the rebound was plucked away from Lampard by Ridgewell.

Substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips burst away from his defender and shook the crossbar, but moments later he was responsible for missing an open goal after Salomon Kalou's cross had squirmed through to him at the back post.

Shevchenko almost proved to be Chelsea's match-winner with a ferocious strike from 30 yards, but Sorensen's acrobatics denied him.

Other than the goalkeeper, Mellberg and Ridgewell were Villa's other stand-outs, as they marshalled the defence admirably.

On a rare Villa break Claude Makelele was lucky to remain on the pitch after tugging down Angel.

Wright-Phillips and Kalou brought another dimension to Chelsea's attacks late on, as the game ended frantically.

Surprisingly it was Villa who had the best late chance, when Angel mis-hit a shot with just Cech to beat.

Kalou also blasted wide with a good opportunity for Chelsea in the dying seconds, as Villa hung on for another impressive point.


Chelsea  Cech, A. Cole, Carvalho, Terry, Essien, Geremi (Kalou 68), Lampard, Makelele, Drogba, Robben (Wright-Phillips 68), Shevchenko
Subs Not Used  Cudicini, Boulahrouz, Mikel
Goals  Drogba 3

Aston Villa Sorensen, Barry, Hughes, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Davis (Laursen 83), McCann, Petrov, Agbonlahor, Angel, Moore (Baros 40)
Subs Not Used Taylor, Berger, Whittingham
Booked  McCann, Mellberg
Goals  Agbonlahor 45

Attendance  41,951

Referee G. Poll


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