Aston Villa escape with point after stirring second-half fightback from Chelsea

Conor Gallagher of Chelsea celebrates scoring his team's second goal with teammate Moises Caicedo during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Chelsea FC at Villa Park on April 27, 2024 in Birmingham, England

At half-time, Aston Villa thought they had one foot in the Champions League. But by the end of a chaotic game against Chelsea, the Midlands club were relieved to take just another point towards a top-four place.

Only a VAR review to disallow a stoppage-time goal from substitute Axel Disasi prevented Villa from falling to what would have been a crushing defeat after they had been two goals up at the break.

Mauricio Pochettino was delighted by the response of his Chelsea team, following their capitulation to Arsenal in midweek. But the Argentine was bitterly disappointed that Disasi was denied a winner.

Chelsea’s players were so angry that Benoit Badiashile, who was ruled to have fouled Diego Carlos in the build up to Disasi’s goal, and Noni Madueke were booked by referee Craig Pawson after the full-time whistle for their protests.

While Villa will be annoyed they did not win and move nine points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, a point meant they clinched a top-five finish for the first time since the 1996-97 season and will finish above Manchester United for the first time ever in the Premier League.

Unai Emery’s team have a nasty habit of panicking when they hold two-goal leads and that was the case again, but they are seven points above Tottenham, albeit with the London club having three games in hand – starting against Arsenal on Sunday.

A Marc Cucurella own-goal and a Morgan Rogers strike had put Villa on course for a victory that would have seen the hosts eyeing up which of Europe’s top clubs they could face next season.

But, in truth, they were never in control of a game in which Chelsea dominated possession and the visitors fought back with second-half goals from Noni Madueke and Conor Gallagher. Cole Palmer missed a stoppage-time one-on-one, before, from the resulting corner, Disasi thought he had won it.

The first half epitomised so much of Chelsea’s season, as Pochettino’s team enjoyed plenty of possession but switched off at the back and were wasteful in front of goal.

Having been thrashed by Arsenal, the last thing Chelsea wanted was to concede early, but that is exactly what they did as Villa scored with their first attack of the game in the fourth minute.

Pau Torres passed the ball out to Lucas Digne, whose low cross was mishit by John McGinn. But Cucurella could not sort his feet out and scored an own goal under pressure from Ollie Watkins.

Whether or not it was a tactic by Emery, the hosts allowed Chelsea to have plenty of the ball and they thought they had levelled in the 16th minute.

Moises Caicedo played a pass over the top and Nicolas Jackson raced away to finish well past Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez. Initial replays made it looked like Matt Cash had played the striker onside, but a VAR check ruled he had been slightly off.

Jackson later hit the base of the post with a header that he really should have buried. Cucurella picked out the Senegal international unmarked, but he narrowly failed to find the net.

Having survived a couple of scares, Villa doubled their lead shortly before half-time through Rogers. Cash played the ball to the winger, whose shot went through the legs of Trevoh Chalobah and beat Petrovic.

Villa Park erupted and the clinical strike from Rogers, who cost the Midlands club an initial £8 million from Middlesbrough, was in stark contrast to Mykhailo Mudryk’s first-half performance.

Mudryk cost Chelsea an initial £62m, but it was he, not Rogers, who looked like he had spent the first half of the season in the Championship.

Chelsea were without 12 injured players, meaning Pochettino had to name a barely unrecognisable substitutes’ bench. Villa suffered an injury of their own in the first half, with Youri Tielemans having to be replaced by Moussa Diaby.

And there was a further blow for the hosts, as Martinez had to be replaced by deputy goalkeeper Robin Olsen for the start of the second half. Martinez had required some treatment in his hamstring area and his absence seemed to unnerve Villa’s defenders.

Having threatened on a couple of occasions after the break, the visitors were gifted a goal just after the hour mark, thanks to sloppy play from Luiz. The midfielder was slow playing the ball out of defence and was robbed by Gallagher. He managed to work the ball out to Madueke, who buried a shot low into the bottom corner.

A worried looking Emery made a double change with 15 minutes remaining, sending on Diego Carlos and young midfielder Tim Iroegbunam. It was a defensive move from the Villa head coach, but it did not stop Chelsea finding an equaliser as Gallagher curled a brilliant shot into the top corner of the net with nine minutes remaining.

Watkins wasted a late chance for Villa by lifting a shot over the bar, but Chelsea felt they should have won it. An error from Carlos let in Palmer, but Olsen managed to save and only late VAR drama saved the hosts after Disasi thought he had completed what would have been an amazing turnaround.

Chelsea show character in superb fightback: as it happened

10:38 PM BST

Unai remains positive despite disappointing result

10:26 PM BST

Poch says VAR has damaged English football

10:14 PM BST

Conor Gallagher speaks after the game

10:09 PM BST

Full-time: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

There were a couple of yellow cards after he final whistle - it looked like Madueke and Badiashile - as they rushed Pawson to complain. Chelsea might feel hard done by not to get the win but it was a morale-boosting performance from them to come back from 2-0 down.

10:08 PM BST

95+7 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

There is a blue flare let off in the Chelsea end - they were celebrating wildly when Robin Olsen’s own goal was awarded. But when VAR asked Craig Pawson to look at Benoit Badiashile’s shove on Diego Carlos, you knew what was coming. It could end in a draw - or worse - but Chelsea have been really good this second half.

10:06 PM BST

95+7 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

One last chance for Villa. The ball is whipped in from the corner, met by Duran but his header goes just over. That’s it, the spoils are shared. Chelsea with a fantastic second half showing and will feel they should have won it in the end.

10:04 PM BST

95+5 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

Late late drama at Villa Park. Chelsea score when Axel Disasi meets Badiashile’s cross with his head. Olsen gets a touch on it but it hits the crossbar and goes in. Chelsea think they’ve won it but VAR says Badiashile pushed Diego Carlos before he put in the cross for Disasi. Pochettino is livid.

Disasi scores for Chelsea but it's ruled out
Disasi scores for Chelsea but it's ruled out - Tim Keeton/EPA

10:00 PM BST

90+3 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

TNT Sport give Moises Caicedo Player of the match, and how right they are, he’s been brilliant today. The ball falls to Palmer after a lack of concentration from Diego Carlos, he’s one on one with Olsen but the substitute keeper stays strong and it hits his leg. What a save! You’d have put your house on Palmer to finish that though.

09:54 PM BST

88 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

What a chance for Villa to win it. McGinn to Cash out wide, Cash to Watkins in the perfect area. You expect him to score from there every day but he balloons it over. Chelsea make two changes. Cesar Casadei for Mudryk and Axel Disasi for the injured Tiago Silva. Seven minutes of added time.

09:51 PM BST

86 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

Moussa Diaby headed straight down the tunnel when he was subbed (after coming on as a sub). Unclear whether he was injured or whether it was tactical.

09:49 PM BST

85 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

Conor Gallagher looked like he picked up a knock before half-time but he has carried on and completed this turnaround. Simple goal, cutting and finding the top corner. But bear in mind it was with his weaker left foot. That is some goal and shows this Chelsea does have character to dig deep.

09:46 PM BST

GOAL! 81 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

Right on cue. What a terrific finish by Conor Gallagher off his left side. He opens up his body and curls it into the top left corner. All square. How will Villa respond? They’ve been extremely passive in this second half.

09:44 PM BST

79 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1

Madueke into the path of Jackson in the box but his touch lets him down. Chelsea are battling for this equaliser and if they were to get it it would be no more than they deserve.

09:41 PM BST

77 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1

Chelsea threaten again. Cucurella plays it to danger man Palmer on the edge of the box but his curled effort goes just wide of the posts.

09:39 PM BST

74 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1

Villa make a double change. Diego Carlos for Douglas Luiz and Iroegbunam for Bailey.

09:38 PM BST

72 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1

Caicedo with a brilliant tackle on the edge of the Villa area, winning it cleanly and flicking it into Madueke’s path. His effort is saved by Olsen. Villa break soon after. Bailey’s attempt palmed out to Watkins who can’t get a foot on it despite his reach. That’s as sprightly as Villa have looked this half.

09:35 PM BST

70 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1

“You’re not fit to referee,” sing the Villa fans at Craig Pawson. The official is in their sights after booking Leon Bailey for treading on Moises Caicedo’s foot - but he missed Douglas Luiz being sent flying. The intensity is rising for the final part of the game here with the result in the balance. It is difficult to understand Villa not trying to control possession. Perhaps Tielemans’ injury has made it difficult. But you would think that Cole Palmer has a big chance in him before the end of the evening.

09:33 PM BST

68 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1

Chelsea are back in it and it is down to Douglas Luiz getting robbed in a dangerous area. Noni Madueke has been their most dangerous player and he deserves his goal. Momentum has swung now and Pochettino’s players can sense there is an equaliser for the taking.

09:30 PM BST

65 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1

Chelsea in the ascendancy now, looking really dangerous. Madueke weaves past a couple of Villa players and is fouled right on the edge of the area. Palmer steps up to take the free but his low drilled effort goes wide and right.

09:28 PM BST

GOAL! 62 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1

Madueke has been Chelsea’s most dangerous player in this half and now he has brought the Blues right back into this contest. Gallagher slips it to the winger in space in the box and he slots home beautifully with his left. Game on.

09:26 PM BST

61 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

Chelsea have been quite wasteful from their set pieces tonight. They have another one here and go short with it to Madueke. He plays it back to Gallagher who whips it in. Olsen catches.

09:24 PM BST

58 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

Palmer cuts onto his dangerous left but his effort is blocked with relative ease by Torres. Tiago Silva meets a Chelsea corner at the back post but Matty Cash knees it out for another one. Olsen drops the high ball from the second but is granted a free when a Chelsea player makes contact.

09:17 PM BST

52 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

Chelsea have a free out wide once more. Palmer whips it in but it’s headed away by Torres. Madueke tries it first time from the clearance but slices it. Villa clear again. Madueke is involved again seconds later, turning onto his left after beating Digne, the winger’s left footed effort curls just wide. Digne really being made to work here.

09:15 PM BST

50 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

Villa forced into a half-time change. That Emi Martinez injury we reported means he cannot continue and Robin Olsen is coming on. Massive blow for Villa.

09:13 PM BST

46 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

Madueke darts down the right, dances past Digne and finds Cucurella in the box who blasts high and wide off his weak side. Caicedo and Douglas Luiz come to blows after Luiz holds onto the Ecuadorian’s shirt for too long. Luiz is booked.

09:09 PM BST

45 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

Emi Martinez has been replaced due to a hamstring problem. He looked Ok in the first half but must have noticed something during the break and made the call. In steps Robin Olsen and the second half gets underway.

09:05 PM BST

Half-time analysis

Chelsea will feel hard done by going in at the interval two down but it’s been the story of their season. They’re defence is a leaky ship and has cost them more than a few times this campaign. Chelsea will get chances in the second half and need to take advantage. On the other hand, Villa will feel a little fortunate but this is what the best do, they make the most of their opportunities when they arise.

Villa go in two up at the break
Villa go in two up at the break - James Baylis/Getty Images

08:53 PM BST

45+6 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

Diaby breaks again for Villa just before the whistle, plays a through ball to talisman Watkins but Badiashile manages to shield him and the ball rolls to the hands of Petrovic. That’s half time.

08:51 PM BST

45+3 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

Totally against the run of play. Villa were soaking up pressure and were lucky to still be ahead but Morgan Rogers has doubled their lead. Rogers was the instigator of the “cold” celebration that was copied by his old Manchester City pal Cole Palmer. who he is facing. Rogers kept his cool to finish at the near post to make it 2-0. It was a strange half, with Villa sitting back after taking their early lead. Rogers’ goal was on the break and Chelsea have a mountain to climb now.

08:46 PM BST

GOAL! 42 mins: Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

Morgan Rogers doubles Villa’s lead! Matty Cash receives the ball after a couple of fortunate bounces, plays it out to the the left hand side of the Chelsea box to Rogers who pushes the ball onto his right and drives it into the bottom left corner past Petrovic.

08:40 PM BST

37 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Game a bit stretched here. Diaby breaks down the right, plays it across to Rogers who passes to Watkins. The striker’s effort is palmed away from Petrovic. This immediately leads to a Chelsea attack that ends with Mudryk but his effort is woeful, skewing it off the outside of his boot and hitting the corner flag.

08:35 PM BST

34 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Cucurella has loads of space in the box to cross to Jackson whose header hits the butt of the post from close range. The Blues getting closer to a deserved equaliser.

08:34 PM BST

31 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Villa have been quiet. The sting has been taken out of their game a bit since the offside goal and the Tielemans injury. Most of the game being played in the Villa half even though Chelsea aren’t doing a whole lot to make the hosts sweat.

08:29 PM BST

28 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Villa have hit injury problems. Youri Tielemans picked up a groin problem and could not carry on, with Moussa Diaby coming on. Emi Martinez needs hamstring treatment but can carry on. Tielemans walks around the perimeter of the pitch and to applause but he looks distraught.

08:28 PM BST

25 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Chelsea looking more dangerous. They play around the edge of the area, ball falls to Caicedo who tries one from range but it ends up comfortably in the gloves of Martinez.

Tielemans looks in trouble. He’s in some pain on the ground. Moussa Diaby pulls on a claret and blue shirt so it looks like that will be the end of the Belgian midfielders night.

08:24 PM BST

21 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

You have to feel sorry for Nicolas Jackson there. Like Coventry at Wembley last weekend, his goal ruled out for offside was by a toenail. To the naked eye it looked like he was behind Matty Cash, although maybe he knew how tight it was as he did not celebrate after he finished. How he needs a goal after his misses in the FA Cup semi-final.

08:22 PM BST

19 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Since the Villa goal Chelsea have actually been the better side. Mudryk cuts in on his right foot and curls it just over. Down the other end Watkins drives forward with the ball and lays it off to Bailey but the pass is too heavy.

08:20 PM BST

15 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Jackson is played through by Palmer and one-on-one with Martinez dinks it past him high into the Villa net. A well taken finish but it won’t count. VAR check it and rule it out for offside. He’s only off by a whisker.

08:12 PM BST

11 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Fans were singing Thiago Silva’s name at the start of the match. Four minutes in and the Brazilian can’t stop Villa from taking the lead. It’s a clear own-goal by Marc Cucurella. John McGinn had the shot but it was going well wide - even the Villa skipper was not claiming that one.

08:09 PM BST

7 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Bailey takes on Cucurella down the right hand side, turns him inside out more than once. The crowd enjoyed that. Moments later Digne hits the side netting with a volley from the edge of the D. Digne has been involved in everything in the first 10 minutes. A Douglas Luiz cross meets the head of Digne, forcing Petrovic to tip over. It’s offside anyway.

08:06 PM BST

GOAL! 4 mins: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 0

Pau Torres plays it through to Digne from the edge of the area. The left-back’s low cross meets McGinn whose scuffed effort comes off Cucurella and finds the net. That’s the second time this week Chelsea have conceded in the opening five minutes.

08:05 PM BST

3 mins: Gallagher free kick from distance is floated

Gallagher free kick from distance is floated into Badiashile whose first time side footed volley goes over

08:03 PM BST

Chelsea into double-figures for injuries

Pochettino is into double-figures for injuries to his Chelsea squad and has filled the bench with the likes of Ted Curd (18), Deivid Washington (18), Josh Acheampong (17), Tyrique George (18) and Kiano Dyer (17).  Alfie Gilchrist is on the bench and a veteran at 20 years old. Team are out, Ozzy Osbourne has been played - they are ready for the final Premier League game of the day.

08:01 PM BST

1 min: Aston Villa 0 Chelsea 0

And we’re off! Villa kick-off, playing from left to right.

07:54 PM BST

Something for Southgate to ponder

Between Cole Palmer and Ollie Watkins there is a whopping 60 goal contributions in the Premier League this season. Palmer has scored 20 goals and provided 9 assists while Watkins has scored 19 and assisted 12 times. Can Gareth Southgate afford to leave these two players out of his squad for the Euros?

Ollie Watkins has 31 goal contributions in the league this season
Ollie Watkins has 31 goal contributions in the league this season - Joe Prior/Getty Images

07:44 PM BST

Emery here to stay

07:41 PM BST

Gallagher addresses Chelsea mentality

07:33 PM BST

Double blow for Chelsea tonight?

If Chelsea go down to Villa tonight it will be a terrible night all around for the Blues with their women’s team crashing out of the Champions League to reigning champions Barcelona at Stamford Bridge. They went into the second leg of the tie 1-0 up on aggregate but goals from Aitana Bonmati and Fridolina Rolfö, plus a red card for Kadeisha Buchanan on the hour, meant it was a night to forget for Emma Hayes’ side.

07:14 PM BST

The build-up

Chelsea have been the Cole Palmer team - and he is back after missing the 5-0 defeat to Arsenal through injury. Mauricio Pochettino has made changes in defence with Trevoh Chalobah in for Axel Disasi and Thiago Silva in for Alfie Gilchrist. Enzo Fernandez misses the rest of the season which makes room for Palmer.

It is Unai Emery’s first match since committing his future to Aston Villa with a new contract until 2027. “We have a have a shared and aligned vision for this club and there is a structure in place to develop further,” he wrote in his programme notes. “We must stay humble and hungry.” He has Douglas Luiz back from injury and he replaces Moussa Diaby from the team that defeated Bournemouth last weekend.

07:05 PM BST

Star man Palmer returns for Chelsea

They missed him dearly in last weeks demolition by league leaders Arsenal, but Cole Palmer is back in the starting XI. A goal (or more?) from the young Englishman tonight will put him ahead in the race for the Golden Boot. He is currently tied on 20 with Erling Haaland.

Cole Palmer returns to the starting lineup
Cole Palmer returns to the starting lineup - Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

07:01 PM BST

Chelsea team is in

07:00 PM BST

Villa team is in

06:55 PM BST

Villa take on the mystery that is Chelsea in their quest for Champions League football

It’s been a season to remember for Unai Emery’s men who are now six points clear of Spurs in fourth place. A win against Mauricio Pochettino’s side tonight will put them nine to the good. Villa fans won’t be getting ahead of themselves just yet though, as Spurs have three games in hand on them. They hosts league hopefuls and bitter rivals Arsenal in the North London Derby tomorrow afternoon.

Chelsea look like the kind of team that could do just about anything at the moment. They’ve proven this season that they are capable of putting it up to the best, but equally prone to some head-scratching results. In fact, the last couple of weeks have summed them up to a tee, beating Everton 6-0 at home in a riotous display of attacking panache then getting hammered 5-0 by Arsenal eight days later. Which Chelsea will show up tonight?

Chelsea’s recent results at Villa Park have been quite good, winning seven of their last nine there. The two have thrice encountered each other this season with Villa winning the league clash and Chelsea eventually getting through in the FA Cup after a replay.

There’s record to be broken tonight for the home side. A win will mean Villa will register 21 top-flight wins in a season for the first time since 1992-93. Villa are also only one goal short of equaling their most in a top-flight season, set in their title-winning campaign in 1980-81.

Meanwhile, Ollie Watkins has scored in his last couple of Premier League games against their visitors. He needs one more goal to become the first Aston Villa player to reach 20 in a season since Peter Withe in that league winning season.

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