Aston Villa beat Chelsea with a strong performance in front of the first crowd at Villa Park in over a year.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa hosted Chelsea at Villa Park this afternoon for the final game of the Premier League season, with a limited number of fans allowed into the stadium for the first time in over a year.
Tuchel’s Chelsea side were the team on top for the opening ten minutes, but there was no need to worry for the Aston Villa fans in the stadium – as the Villa defence were dealing with the Blues well.
Aston Villa’s midfield was being bypassed far too easily in the opening twenty, with Chelsea dominating the game but struggling to create clear cut chances in front of the Holte End.
John McGinn came close for Aston Villa in the 28th minute after dispossessing Kovacic and racing forward with the roar of the fans behind him. His shot narrowly bounced wide of Mendy’s right-hand post.
Aston Villa did find their way into the game a bit more as the first half progressed, but they still struggled to test Mendy in the Chelsea net.
Two minutes before the end of the first half, and a well worked set-piece saw Aston Villa take the lead. A short corner routine found the on-rushing Bertrand Traore, who fired awkwardly towards the goal. The shot rose above the Chelsea defence before bouncing off the bar and nestling into the net.
Timo Werner was booked in the 47th minute for a poor challenge on Bertrand Traore.
[ Half time XG: Aston Villa (0.28 xG) – (0.93 xG) Chelsea ]
Chelsea started the second half with a change, replacing goalkeeper Mendy with Kepa Arrizabalaga. The away side had a handful of chances early on, but couldn’t make them pay.
Within six minutes of the first half, Aston Villa were awarded a penalty as Jorginho fouled Bertrand Traore in the Chelsea box. Anwar El Ghazi stepped up to fire an emphatic penalty home in front of the Holte End. Chelsea then prepared another earlyish change, replacing Jorginho.
On the hour mark, Chelsea thought they’d brought a goal back as Timo Werner placed the ball in the net – but it was called back for an offside from Cesar Azpilicueta.
John McGinn was booked in the 64th minute for a foul on Thiago Silva as he looked to press the defender. Shortly after, Kai Havertz replaced Kovacic.
Chelsea finally answered back in the 70th. A ball found Ben Chilwell at the far post, where the left-back was able to fire past Martinez, despite the Argentinian’s best efforts to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Aston Villa’s first chance of the afternoon came with Carney Chukwuemeka appearing at Villa Park for the first time in the senior squad, replacing Bertrand Traore. Marvelous Nakamba was booked in the 73rd minute for kicking the ball away after a Matt Targett foul.
With 12 minutes until the end of normal time, Anwar El Ghazi was replaced by Jacob Ramsey.
Emiliano Martinez was forced into a strong save at his far post to deny Chilwell a second goal in the 85th, as the keeper managed to move across his goal line and block the shot, before turning and roaring towards the fans in the North Stand.
Cesar Azpilicueta was sent off in the 89th minute for swinging an arm into the face of Jack Grealish as the pair scrambled after a foul.
There were five minutes added on at the end of the 90.
Aston Villa finished the season on a high – with back to back wins and a strong result again Chelsea!