LONDON – Branislav Ivanovic scored a stunning winner as Chelsea battled to a 2-1 win at Aston Villa to extend their lead at the top.
Eden Hazard slotted home a sweeping early move from the visitors before Jores Okore headed in shortly after half-time to score Aston Villa’s first Premier League goal in nearly 11 hours, but Ivanovic’s thunderbolt sealed the points for the visitors.
Oscar had been denied by Brad Guzan while Willian went close with two low efforts in a scrappy affair, but Ivanovic’s goal was enough for Jose Mourinho pick up his first win at Villa Park in six attempts.
Chelsea, who have now gone four games unbeaten, move seven points clear at the top of the table after Manchester City were held by Hull.
The visitors dominated the early possession and were in front after eight minutes when Oscar moved down the line and found Willian, who slid an excellent pass into the box for Hazard to stroke across goal and into the far corner.
Villa improved after that and started to see more of the ball. Fabian Delph looked to play an instrumental role and set up a good chance for Agbonlahor, who could only head the midfielder’s cross off target.
Chelsea had a good chance to double their lead soon after as Ramires caught out Tom Cleverley before Nemanja Matic found Oscar with a good through ball and the Brazilian’s near-post effort was superbly turned away by Brad Guzan.
Mourinho’s men allowed the visitors more possession in what turned into a scrappy affair, but they had another excellent chance as Hazard spotted the run of Ramires, who collected his pass and moved into the box only to be denied by a stunning last-ditch challenge from Ciaran Clark.
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