Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 4
Fernando Torres finally ended his six-month wait for a league goal as Roberto Di Matteo picked up a sixth win in eight matches as interim Chelsea manager.
Goals from Daniel Sturridge and Branoslav Ivanovic either side of half-time had the Blues seemingly in control but Villa drew level late on through James Collins and Eric Lichaj.
But Ivanovic added his second with six minutes left before Torres sealed a vital away victory in the hunt for Champions League qualification this season.
Frank Lampard praised the simplicity of Di Matteo’s managerial approach this week, compared to the disorder of Andre Villas-Boas’s reign in which he struggled to hold down a first-team place.
Another two players who endured bit-part places under AVB, Torres and Soloman Kalou, both made their second consecutive starts under Di Matteo.
Torres missed a glorious one-on-one chance two minutes before Sturridge’s opener, after being put through by Mata.
It was a second shot from Torres that was blocked to the feet of Sturridge after nine minutes, and he blasted Chelsea into the lead from close range.
Chelsea then settled and controlled the rest of the half before Ivanovic poked home Juan Mata’s corner on 51 minutes to seemingly kill off Villa.
But the Blues sat back and allowed Villa to put immense pressure on their back four, which finally caved with 13 minutes to go. A long throw into the penalty area evaded everyone but Collins, who headed easily past Petr Cech.
Villa thought they had sealed fantastic comeback and a point when substitute Marc Albrighton beat Chelsea down the right-hand side and crossed for Lichaj to poke hom the equaliser at the far post in the 80th minute.
But Chelsea’s response was testament to a renewed desire under Di Matteo and Ivanovic met Torres’s flick-on from a corner to head the away side back into the lead.
Torres then killed the game off in the third minute of added time when he latched onto a through-ball and coolly slotted the ball into the far corner.