Ivanovic gives Chelsea controversial win

Chelsea 2 Aston Villa 1

Branislav Ivanovic’s 73rd-minute goal gave Chelsea a controversial victory at Stamford Bridge.

The Serbian defender headed home Frank Lampard’s right-wing free-kick shortly after escaping with only a yellow card for catching Christian Benteke in the face with his arm.

Benteke’s fine equaliser on the stroke of half-time had brought Aston Villa level following Antonio Luna’s own goal.

And Chelsea endured a rocky spell midway through the second half before Ivanovic netted a winner that put them top of the Premier League after two matches.

The result was tough on Villa, who were also denied an injury-time penalty despite Gabriel Agbonlahor’s header clearly striking John Terry’s arm.

Jose Mourinho’s side dominated the opening stages with slick passing and movement, but got lucky for their sixth-minute opener.

Eden Hazard latched onto Oscar’s clever pass and after the Belgian’s shot was parried by keeper Brad Guzan the ball cannoned off the unfortunate Luna and into the net.

Villa, walloped 8-0 at the Bridge last season, defended resolutely for the rest of the half and drew level seconds before the interval.

Agbonlahor burst down the left and pulled the ball back for Benteke, who was allowed too much room by Terry and took a touch before firing past keeper Petr Cech.

And the visitors twice almost took the lead just after the hour mark.

First, Agbonlahor sent an effort narrowly wide from near the edge of the penalty area after being found by Matthew Lowton.

Then Cech produced a near-post save to keep out Andreas Weimann’s first-time shot after the Austrian had been found unmarked by Benteke’s excellent left-wing cross.

Having been in total control early on, Chelsea were beginning to look ragged and Ivanovic could well have been dismissed for his challenge on Benteke right in front of referee Kevin Friend.

Villa felt he should have been, so had every reason to feel aggrieved when Ivanovic restored the home team’s lead.

That lead might have been wiped out again had Cech not produced another fine save to deny Weimann – or had Friend not given Terry the benefit of the doubt in the final seconds.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Oscar (Van Ginkel 84), Mata (Schurrle), Hazard; Ba (Lukaku 64).
Subs not used: Mikel, De Bruyne, Schwarzer, Azpilicueta.



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