Saturday, February 7, 2015 6:27 pm
Branislav Ivanovic’s fierce strike helped Premier League leaders Chelsea secure a crucial 2-1 win at Aston Vila, on a day second placed Manchester City only claimed a point at home to Hull City courtesy of a saw a last-gasp equaliser by James Milner in a 1-1 draw.
A free flowing move had seen Oscar and Willian combine to set up Eden Hazard for Chelsea’s opener in the eighth minute, with Oscar denied by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan as the Blues sought to extend their lead.
It was Villa that however got a goal back, with Jores Okore heading in an equaliser three minutes into the second half and ending a barren run in front of goal that stretched over 600 minutes for Villa.
But Chelsea would claim the last laugh from the ground it lost last season’s meeting controversially, as Serbian defender Ivanovic latched on to a hopeful Hazard pass in the area with a first-time volley into the top corner.
Winter signing Juan Cuadrado made his Chelsea debut when he came on for Willian late on, with Jose Mourinho’s side holding on to claim a 2-1 win and extend their lead atop the Premier League to seven points.
Meanwhile at the Etihad Stadium, Man. City required a stoppage time freekick from James Milner to salvage a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Hull City.
David Meyler had put the Tigers ahead in comical circumstance 10 minutes before half time, tapping home from close range after Man. City goalkeeper Joe Hart had come well off his line and made a rash of a clearance.
That clearance eventually fell to a Hull player whose effort on the rebound was kept out by Hart, who then saw a second rebound effort kept out by the foot of the post only for the ball to fall Meyler’s path.
Man. City survived a similar scare that led to the first goal just before half time, but went on to dominate the second period with top scorer Sergio Agüero coming closest to the equaliser when his close range half-volley smashed off the Hull woodwork in the 89th minute.
Milner however spared the champions from an embarrassing home loss by curling in a stunning freekick from 30 yards out two minutes into stoppage time to earn a share of the spoils.
Elsewhere, Liverpool and Everton played out a goalless draw in the Merseyside derby while Sadio Mane scored a stoppage time winner as Southampton snatched a 1- 0 win away at QPR.