Chelsea got back on track as Mason Mount’s superb winner and Tammy Abraham’s influential display inspired a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Frank Lampard’s side ended a run of two successive Premier League defeats thanks to the latest heroics from emerging England duo Mount and Abraham.
Abraham put Chelsea ahead in the first half against the team the 22-year-old striker helped win promotion from the Championship last season.
Trezeguet’s third goal in his last four appearances drew Villa level, but 20-year-old midfielder Mount responded with a blistering volley from Abraham’s assist to seal the points after half-time.
Chelsea remain fourth, six points ahead of fifth-placed Wolves, as they chase a Champions League berth in Lampard’s impressive first season in charge.
The only concern for Lampard was the sight of Abraham walking gingerly off the pitch when he was substituted late in the second half.
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Villa assistant manager John Terry received a warm welcome back to the club he graced as captain for so many successful seasons.
For 90 minutes at least, that was the only hospitality Lampard would extend to Terry and his old Chelsea team-mate’s Villa side.
Lampard had been frustrated with Chelsea’s lack of creativity and cutting edge in their shock 1-0 defeat against West Ham on Saturday, so he would have been encouraged by Christian Pulisic’s early thrust through the heart of the Villa defence.
Pulisic slipped a perfectly-weighted pass to Willian in the Villa area, but the Brazilian’s drive was pushed over by Tom Heaton.
Chelsea were dominating possession, yet when Mount headed tamely at Heaton before blasting over moments later, Lampard might have feared more angst at the hands of a Villa side he lost to three times with Derby last season.
He need not have worried as Abraham’s return from the hip injury that ruled him out of the West Ham game made Chelsea a far more incisive unit and the youngster broke the deadlock in the 24th minute.
– Immediate response –
Abraham scored 26 goals in 40 appearances on loan at Villa and, his confidence sky-high after that success, he has enjoyed a breakthrough season with Chelsea.
His 12th goal in all competitions for Chelsea this term, including 11 in 14 league appearances, showcased his nuanced penalty area movement as he edged subtly away from Ezri Konsa to meet Reece James’ cross with a clinical close-range header.
Having already acknowledged the Villa supporters who chanted his name and jokingly sang “you used to play for a big club”, Abraham opted not to celebrate the goal and held his hands up apologetically towards the away end.
Abraham’s strike should have been the signal for Chelsea to go for the kill, but instead the creaky defence that has been their Achilles heel at times under Lampard was breached far too easily in the 41st minute.
Cesar Azpilicueta, caught out of position, gave Ahmed Elmohamady space to swing over a cross towards Trezeguet, who had no problem getting in front of the ponderous James.
Despite almost losing his footing, the Egypt midfielder got his head to the ball, diverting it onto his foot and past Kepa Arrizabalaga at the near post.
Chelsea needed an immediate response after the interval and they delivered in the 48th minute.
Willian clipped a cross towards Abraham and the striker alertly chested the ball into the path of Mount, who smashed a sublime volley into the roof of the net from 12 yards for his fifth club goal of the season.
Only a fine save from Heaton prevented Willian putting the result beyond doubt after the winger danced through the Villa defence.
Heaton denied Willian again when he brilliantly pushed a free-kick onto the post and Chelsea’s profligacy almost proved fatal when Kepa had to make a fine stop to keep out Douglas Luiz’s header in the last minute.