It seems that even when luck is on Chelsea’s side at the moment, the results just have not been going their way. Such was the case on Sunday at Stamford Bridge as the Blues could only muster a 3-3 draw with Aston Villa in a thrilling encounter.
Conjuring up memories of the 4-4 draw on Boxing Day of 2007, where Chelsea had Ashley Cole and Ricardo Carvalho sent off and Gareth Barry stepped up to score a last minute penalty for the Villans, this match had similar drama for the neutral supporter. With six goals scored and nine yellow cards between the two teams, excitement was on full display.
Villa did not resemble a team fighting a relegation battle and were much the better side for the first 20 minutes. Though the Blues won the possession battle, Villa generated more chances in the opening spell with Ashley Young and Stewart Downing both threatening Petr Cech with swerving efforts from outside the box that the Czech international did well to deal with.
It was Chelsea that got the opener when James Collins climbed over the back of Florent Malouda in the box and referee Lee Mason awarded the penalty. Perhaps a bit soft, the Villa players protested leading to the opening bookings of the match and Frank Lampard stepped up to dispatch the penalty for his first goal since August 14.
Mr. Mason’s book was quite busy as the match turned into a feisty affair as the Villans, playing with a sense of injustice and urgency, went into the book seven times in the first half with a number of stinging challenges. Their good play should’ve resulted in an equaliser on the half hour via set pieces from Young, but Cieran Clark’s header looped over the bar and moments later, Richard Dunne sliced his effort wide from six yards out.
Villa got their equaliser in both scoreline and penalties as Michael Essien caught Nigel Reo-Coker from behind inside the penalty area and Young buried his spot kick to make it 1-1.
Villa took the lead early in the second half through Emile Heskey. The former England striker found the net after outmuscling Jeffrey Bruma and nodding home Downing’s cross.
Carlo Ancelotti responded by removing Paulo Ferreira for his more attack minded countrymen Jose Bosingwa in an effort to push Villa back. It worked, however, Friedel was in the way to stop a brilliant volley on 60 minutes from Lampard after Malouda headed down a Drogba cross. Shortly after Friedel again produced a brilliant save when Lampard threaded through to Malouda and the American was able to stop the ball from going between his legs.
Chelsea got back on level terms in the 83rd minute as John Terry played a superb ball to Kalou whose shot was saved by Friedel. The Villa keeper could only parry the ball back into the path of Didier Drogba, who shuffled around him to drill home a fierce shot.
The Blues thought they got a winner with just two minutes left in normal time as Essien robbed Marc Albrighton and skipped past him to drive a cross into the box. Drogba rose to meet the ball and Friedel saved well, but the rebound fell to Terry and the Chelsea captain slotted home to make it 3-2 and the celebrations were on.
They were short lived as in stoppage time Albrighton and Clark made up for their earlier mistakes. The young winger Albrighton skipped inside Daniel Sturridge and Clark took advantage of poor marking to head past a helpless Cech at the far post to give Villa a point that they most likely deserved.
For Chelsea, they will be disheartened that their superb comeback didn’t give them three points, especially since both Arsenal and Manchester United won at the weekend and this draw keeps them in 5th place