Ivanovic heads Chelsea winner to defeat Aston Villa

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Branislav Ivanovic's second-half header helped Chelsea claim a controversial 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge, sending the Blues to the top of the Premier League table with maximum points from their opening two games.

The Serbian defender converted Frank Lampard's 72nd minute free-kick, moments after he avoided a red card for an elbow in the face of Christian Benteke, to cancel out the Belgian striker's timely equaliser just before half-time, after an early Antonio Luna own goal.

Paul Lambert's men were also unfortunate not to win a stoppage time penalty, after Gabby Agbonlahor's header clearly hit the hand of Chelsea captain John Terry, but referee Kevin Friend waved away the Aston Villa appeals.

Chelsea broke the deadlock with their first real chance of the game, after a defence-splitting pass from Oscar set Eden Hazard free on the left. As he infiltrated the box, his tame effort was parried by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, into the chest of retreating defender Luna.

The full-back celebrated a debut goal in Saturday's 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates, but he quickly went from hero to villain after diverting the ball into his own net with only six minutes on the clock.

In a first-half with few chances created for either side, Oscar pulled a shot wide after cutting in from the right, and Lampard's attempt to replicate his 35-yard free-kick goal against Hull City on Sunday, ended up at the back of the stand.

Andreas Weimann failed to capitalise on Villa's best chance of the first-half, after a quick free-kick teed up Luna for a cross to the back post, but the No.10 didn't get anything on the ball.

Karim El Ahmadi fired a long-range effort just wide of Petr Cech's post, but it never looked to be troubling the Chelsea goalkeeper.

Villa were forced into an early change after Ciaran Clark suffered a gash to the head following a tangle with Chelsea striker Demba Ba. He was withdrawn on 43 minutes, with Jores Okore coming on for his Premier League debut.

Then, moments before the break Villa drew level, with a goal seemingly out of nothing.

Agbonlahor found space down the left flank before cutting a ball back to Benteke on the penalty spot, and after a good control his low-drilled left-foot shot beat Cech at his near post for 1-1, to the disbelief of the 41,527 fans at Stamford Bridge.

The strike marked Benteke's third goal in two games this season, and his 17th in the Premier League in 2013, as he continues to enhance his burgeoning reputation at Villa Park.

Agbonlahor wasted the first opportunity of note in the second-half as the ball fell kindly to him on the edge of the Chelsea box, but his curling shot went just over the bar.

On 63 minutes Cech was called into action again, denying Weimann from close-range, after he unleashed a half-volley from Benteke's lay-off.

The introduction of Andre Schurrle and Romelu Lukaku in place of Juan Mata and Ba made a positive impact for Chelsea, with Lukaku in particular making his presence felt amongst the Aston Villa defence.

Both players made chances of their own, with Schurrle's neat turn creating space on the edge of the box, only for him to fire high over Guzan's goal. Lukaku also held off a Villa defender, but could only hammer into the side-netting.

A coming together between Ivanovic and Benteke had the Villa players and manager Lambert up in arms, after the right-back was adjudged to have elbowed his opponent in the face.

Fiery remonstrations between Lambert and Mourinho ensued, in what was an entertaining sideshow on the touchline.

After being let off with a yellow card, Ivanovic then played an instrumental role in the winning goal, converting Lampard's right-wing free-kick with an excellent header.

Benteke was on the floor again holding his head after another tangle with the Chelsea defender, but this time referee Friend showed the Villa striker a yellow card for simulation, determining that Ivanovic had only been guilty of clearing his lines.

Villa pressed for an equaliser late on, and in the third minute of five added on at the end of the second-half, could have had a penalty when Agbonlahor's header hit the hand of Terry.

But, lady-luck failed to shine on a well-organised Villa side, who can take heart from their performance in west London, just four days after their shock victory over the Gunners across the capital.

Next up for them is a home clash against Liverpool at Villa Park on Saturday, while Chelsea travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Monday evening.

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Oscar (Van Ginkel 84), Mata (Schurrle 65), Hazard; Ba (Lukaku 65).

Subs not used: Schwarzer, Azpilicueta, Mikel, De Bruyne.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark (43 Okore), Luna, El Ahmadi (Tonev 82), Westwood, Delph, Agbonlahor, Weimann. Benteke

Subs not used: Steer, Bennett, Bacuna, Helenius, Sylla.

Venue: Stamford Bridge

Referee: Kevin Friend

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