BY PAUL LAGAN at Stamford Bridge
Mason Mount produced a sensational volley to score the winner that secured all three points as Chelsea dug deep to dispatch a rugged Aston Villa 2-1 tonight at Stamford Bridge. Tammy Abraham’s had opened the scoring before Villa’s Trezeguet equalised.
The Blues needed the win for the confidence to enter the Christmas period with the knowledge that a top four finish is the minimum they can achieve.
Back to back league defeats, the second an embarrassing 1-0 reverse to West Ham on Saturday was dispelled as the west Londoners had more than 25 attempts on goal.
That only two were converted will be a source of concern for head coach Frank Lampard.
John Terry returned to the Bridge for the fist time as a member of the opposition, and left it to the end of the game to absorb the applause with a solo appearance on the pitch – he soaked up the chants from the Chelsea faithful and even Lampard stayed in his dugout clapping along with the fans.
That was the sideshow.
A fine counter-attack by the Blues on six minutes, saw Christian Pulisic cut straight through the Villa defence. he passed to in-running Willian, who let fly with a venomous right-footer. Tom Heaton, was well placed to parry the bullet shot away to safety.
Mason Mount had a couple of half chances, the second ending up in row Z of the Shed.
But the pressure finally told, and on 24 minutes, following a deft cross by Reece James, Tammy Abraham was on the spot to head home, unchallenged from close range.
True to the gentle and considerate nature of the player, the former Aston Villa Loanee, who 10 minutes earlier was lauded by the Villa fans, refused to celebrate.
Chelsea slept as the visitors scored the equaliser.
The architect was Jack Grealish but the final ball, from the right was smashed across the byline, and Trezeguet was the first to get to the ball, and the ball bounded off his midriff and into the back of the Chelsea goal.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
But what a start buy the Blues – a clipped ball by Willian was chested gleefully into the path of Mason Mount by Abraham, and the attacking midfielder let fly with an unstoppable right-footed volley that smashed into the roof of Heaton’s goal to restore the Londoners’ lead.
Then game entered as fallow period where neither side looked capable of adding to the score. That was until 20 minutes from time when a fine counter-attack by the Blues saw Abraham inches away from netting his second, but the flicked ball was inches wide of Heaton’s right post.
Heaton produced a fantastic finger-tip save to thwart Willian, whose 25 yard free-kick on 80 minutes looked destined for the top left hand corner of the goalkeeper’s net. The England stopper’ dived to his left and acrobatically defe;c ted the ball onto the post. It came back and Tyrone Mings cleared.
Abraham, who was back after suffering a hip injury against Valencia last week was replaced with eight minutes left on the clock – Michy Batshuayi replaced him.
Callum Hudson-Odoi was next on the pitch, with Pulisic coming off.
Substitute Douglas Luiz out jumped Kurt Zouma and almost levelled with a minute left. Kepa did well to clear the ball at his near post.
Chelsea, Kepa, Christensen, Kante, Abraham, Willian, Zouma, Kovacic, Mount, Pulisic, James, Azpilicueta
Subs, Caballero, Jorginho, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Batshuayi, Tomori, Emerson
Aston Villa, Heaton, McGinn, Wesley, Grealish, Nakamba, Hourihane, Ngoyo , Trezeguet, Targett, El Mohammad, Mings
Subs, Nyland, Taylor, Luiz, Lansbury, Engels, Jota, Kodjia
Referee Christopher Kavanagh
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