LONDON - Chelsea overcame obdurate opposition from Aston Villa to secure a hard-fought 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge yesterday that maintained their early momentum in the fledgling Premier League season.
Breezy 2-0 victors over Hull City in their opening game on Sunday, Chelsea had to dig much deeper against Paul Lambert's side but eventually prevailed through a header from Branislav Ivanovic with 17 minutes to play.
As against Hull, Chelsea had taken an early lead, this time through an own goal from Antonio Luna, but Villa refused to roll over and claimed an equaliser on the stroke of half-time when Christian Benteke lashed home.
Victory in an occasionally ill-tempered game, brought forward due to Chelsea's involvement in the UEFA Super Cup on August 30, will give Jose Mourinho enhanced belief that his side are ready for the battle sure to await them at Manchester United on Monday.
Villa manager Lambert, meanwhile, will take solace from the doggedness of his side's display, four days on from their shock 3-1 win at Arsenal and eight months after a humiliating 8-0 defeat on the same pitch.