Chelsea kept up with Manchester City in the Premier League title competition and moved on to points with Liverpool after defeating Aston Villa 3-1 on other days.
Villa boss Steven Gerrard was absent after testing positive for Covid-19 on Christmas Day and watching from home as his side fell to defeat.
A tight opening 23 minutes into the match resulted in a free kick aimed at the keeper’s far post, allowing Mason Mount’s crossing to reach Emiliano Martinez.
Villa took the lead shortly after thanks to a similar moment of happiness. Matt Targett’s post was met by Reece James, whose meandering nod confused Edouard Mendy and floated into the net.
Chelsea got a golden opportunity to take a draw minutes later when Matty Cash stupidly knocked down Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho equalized the match from the spot.
A loss of concentration from the Blues’ Italian skipper almost gave Villa another goal, but Morgan Sanson intercepted a loose pass and released Ollie Watkins, but Mendy was quick from his line to deny him.
Thomas Tuchel’s team almost took the lead shortly after half time when Mount’s post nodded against substitute Romelu Lukaku of Cash, but the loose ball was gratefully grabbed by Emiliano Martinez.
Lukaku nodded Chelsea forward just before the hour mark and came in front of Tyrone Mings to meet Hudson-Odoi’s post and gave his side the lead.
Chelsea should have added a third through Mount after rounding out Martinez, but the English midfielder somehow pulled his shot outside an empty net.
While Villa could barely get a chance, the visitors created a golden one during the break with Lukaku and Mateo Kovacic linking to and liberating Hudson-Odoi, and he was denied a clever save.
Tuchel’s men made one last chance at the break with Lukaku bulldozing past Matt Targett and pulling a foul from Ezri Konsa. Jorginho scored again from the penalty spot to secure the three points.
Cash gave Chelsea a way back into the game / Marc Atkins / GettyImages
Emiliano Martinez (GK) – 5/10 – Not much to do except pick the ball out of the net.
Matty Cash (RB) – 3/10 – Can not emphasize how stupid his foul on Hudson-Odoi was. What was he thinking?
Ezri Konsa (CB) – 3/10 – Got to look stupid by Lukaku late after doing his best to avoid such a scenario in the second half.
Tyrone Mings (CB) – 3/10 – Slightly bullied by Lukaku for Chelsea’s second of the match and Villa never recovered.
Matt Targett (LB) – 5/10 – A busy man at both ends but could not make any difference going forward and will also have nightmares about Chelsea’s great Belgians.
Luiz kept his own / Marc Atkins / GettyImages
Douglas Luiz (DM) – 6/10 – Like Targett saw a lot of the ball and did not look out of place against two elite midfielders.
Morgan Sanson (CM) – 5/10 – Apart from the Jorginho interception in the first half, he was quiet and did little to bet on more starts.
Jacob Ramsey (CM) – 5/10 – Fast feet and full of energy but produced little to significantly help his side.
Ings and Watkins looked pretty toothless / Visionhaus / GettyImages
Emiliano Buendia (RW) – 5/10 – Made a couple of decent openings but nothing major.
Danny Ings (CF) – 4/10 – Always made smart runs, but his lack of pace prevented him from really getting a goal.
Ollie Watkins (LW) – 4/10 – Stopped in to play with Ings but was equally frustrated, with most of his shots blocked.
Bertrand Traore (RW, 73 ‘for Ings) – 6/10
Carney Chukwuemeka (AM, 73 ‘for Buendia) – 6/10
Anwar El Ghazi (LW, 77 ‘for Sanson) – 5/10
Thiago Silva felt a little uncomfortable early in the second half / Matthew Ashton – AMA / GettyImages
Edouard Mendy (GK) – 6/10 – He could not do much about his own goal but was otherwise aware of danger.
Trevoh Chalobah (CB) – 6/10 – Interrupted at half time but was hardly a prosecution against his performance.
Thiago Silva (CB) – 7/10 – Led from behind, stepped into midfield when needed. Replaced with damage.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 7/10 – His passing range helped Chelsea out of some tricky situations when Villa pressed.
Kante was great / Matthew Ashton – AMA / GettyImages
Reece James (RWB) – 5/10 – Tough to completely put the blame for the self-goal at his door but come on, man, not there.
N’Golo Kante (CM) – 8/10 – Quietly excellent, as the football world has expected.
Jorginho (CM) – 8/10 – Scored two goals from the spot and was otherwise cleaned.
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – 5/10 – Surprisingly, his defensive weaknesses were not exploited by Villa.
Mount got Chelsea to click / Catherine Ivill / GettyImages
Mason Mount (RW) – 7/10 – Like Kante was effective with a little fanfare (open goal misses aside).
Christian Pulisic (CF) – 5/10 – Not a natural number nine and it turned out. Had more success on the wide side and in the hole after Lukaku was brought out.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (LW) – 8/10 – Won the penalty and took an assist, another well done for a player who finally found his feet at the highest level.
Romelu Lukaku (CF, 46 ‘for Chalobah) – 9/10 – Changing the game and his return will prove crucial in the title race.
Andreas Christensen (CB, 52 ‘for Silva) – 6/10 – Did not look out of place.
Mateo Kovacic (CM, 63 ‘for Kante) – 6/10
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