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Aston Villa vs Chelsea final score: Blues bounce back from early concession

Romelu Lukaku flicks Callum Hudson-Odoi's cross past Emi Martinez to complete Chelsea's turnaround and get the Blues in front of Aston Villa.

Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to score a second-half winner as Chelsea overcame an early own goal to beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park on Sunday.

The Belgian joined Jorginho’s two penalties on the scoresheet after an Aston Villa cross was headed into the Chelsea goal by Blues back Reece James


Christian Pulisic started again for the USMNT and had a challenging but ultimately productive day as the Blues collected a two-goal win. Our own Joe Prince-Wright has a detailed Pulisic Watch, here.

Chelsea joins second-place Liverpool on 41 points, six points back of Man City. Chelsea has played one more match than the Reds and meets them in the first match of 2022.

Villa has 22 points, good for 10th on the Premier League table.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Aston Villa vs Chelsea final score, stats

Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea

Scorers: James o.g. 28', Jorginho pen 34, pen 90'+3, Lukaku 56'

Shot attempts: Villa 8-10 Chelsea

Shots on goal: Villa 1-4 Chelsea

Possession: Villa 42-58 Chelsea

Three things from Aston Villa vs Chelsea

1. Tuchel gets it right after halftime: Christian Pulisic as a false nine, center forward, or whatever Thomas Tuchel wants to call it should be done-and-dusted even if Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz, and Timo Werner all are missing at any other point forward in Chelsea history. It plays to zero of Pulisic’s strengths, especially if his attack mates aren’t treating him like they’d treat another center forward.

So it’s no surprise that moving Pulisic back to a support role and inserting one of the game’s best strikers worked wonders. It’s been easy to forget how much of a force Romelu Lukaku is given that he’s been limited to 77 minutes of Premier League action in the 10 matches prior to Sunday. A solid goal off a Callum Hudson-Odoi feed and bull-like run to win a penalty off a humorously out-muscled Matt Targett sent a message to Chelsea’s next opponents.

2. Villa can reach its season goals: All that said, Chelsea didn’t ask a ton of questions of Emiliano Martinez aside from one fantastic second-half save. Giving up a single goal from the run of play against a wounded and ready Champions League winner is nothing to shake a stick at, especially with the Villans perhaps unnerved by the surprise absence of boss Steven Gerrard. Don’t be surprised if the Villans finish comfortably top half, though navigating the loss of Marvelous Nakamba is a challenge and Leon Bailey’s return seems of great import.

3. Jorginho masterful beyond the penalties: His spot-kick steadiness is well-celebrated but the Italian’s ability to stir the drink is so, so important. Jorginho orchestrates the pace of Tuchel’s attack and he picks out the final ball more often than not without ever frittering away possession. His work in the build-up is sensational and at times he has that Andrea Pirlo quality of not having to make tackles because he’s in position to take away any passes or dribbles into his area.

Man of the Match: Jorginho: See Thing No. 3

Lukaku a force

He only had a half to do damage, but Romeu Lukaku only needed a few minutes.

The second half sub has reminded the Premier League and Champions League that Chelsea is a different question altogether when he’s ready to go.

Chelsea’s only concession comes by chance

Reece James has been responsible for more good than bad this season, and the Chelsea right back was downright unlucky when his attempted block of a cross turned into a pinpoint Villa goal.

Edouard Mendy might want to have this one back, not in any egregious way, but credit the Blues for bouncing back from an early setback. It sounds silly, but

Follow @NicholasMendola