Aston Vill celebrate

Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea: Villa benefit from Blues’ loss of composure (video)


Aston Villa ended Chelsea’s 14 match unbeaten run thanks to a late goal from Fabian Delph. By the end of the match, the Blues were down to nine men, José Mourinho was sent to the stands and Villa had finally recorded back-to-back home wins. The win put them into tenth, nine points from the drop, while Chelsea are now just six points clear at the top, with both Arsenal and Liverpool seeking wins from Sunday’s matches.

Even in a match that, at times, was more boring than watching paint dry, there will almost always be a couple defining moments. This match certainly provided them. Provided quite a few, in fact.

The first half threw up very few thrills, although it was, perhaps, surprising how up for the match the hosts looked. Christian Benteke looked set to score, provided he could just get a piece of the ball, while Villa Park was buzzing. Chelsea were on the attack, but had very little space to work with.

With forty minutes left to play Christian Benteke tried his hand (his boot?) at a scissor-kick volley on the edge of the area, but it went just wide of Petr Cech’s goal.

Perhaps that sent a spark up the Blues’ spine, because a minute later, Nemanja Matić had the ball in the back of the net. However, the Serb was judged to have controlled John Terry’s flick with his arm, and Chris Foy had the goal disallowed.

But that wasn’t the most controversial decision from the referee in this match. In the 67th minute, Mourinho was about to pull off Willian, already on a yellow card. But the manager changed his mind, subbing off Fernando Torres for Demba Ba and putting André Schürrle on in place of Oscar instead.

Just one minute later, Willian was sent off with his second yellow. The Brazilian tugged Fabian Delph’s shirt as they jostled, and although the sending off looked to be a bit harsh, Chelsea were stuck playing the remaining 20+ minutes with just ten men.

The Brazilian, booked in the first half for a foul on Karim El Ahmadi, tugs back Fabian Delph to earn a second yellow and his marching orders.

It looked like Chelsea might still come out on top, particularly when, in the 80th minute, the visitors set up a very tricky little free kick routine. But Ba wasn’t able to connect to Eden Hazard’s threaded ball, and the Blues were looking increasingly out of ideas.

That’s when Villa struck – in the form of a gorgeous goal from Delph. The Englishman sent the ball out wide for Marc Albrighton and, when the perfect pass came back into the area, Delph used a cheeky backheel to get past the Chelsea defense and put the ball into the back of the net.

After that, Chelsea came apart at the seams. Delph nearly scored a second in stoppage time, but his shot hit the woodwork instead.

Immediately after, Ramires lost his cool completely, coming down with both feet on Karim El Ahmadi. Foy sent him off with a straight red – and when Mourinho tried to protest, the Chelsea manager was sent to the stands as well.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett (Clark 78), Westwood, Delph, El Ahmadi, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor (Albrighton 75)

Goals: Delph 82′

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Matic; Willian, Oscar (Schürrle 67), Hazard, Torres (Ba 67)

Red Cards: Willian 68′; Ramires 94′

MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 1-1 Los Angeles Galaxy

Robbie Keane
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Los Angeles Galaxy became the second team in the Western Conference to clinch a berth in the playoffs following a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders. A terrible mistake from Seattle defender Zach Scott led to an easy goal for Robbie Keane, and it looked like that would be the winner until deep into stoppage time. In the 93rd minute, Chad Barrett got his knee on a corner kick to save a draw for Seattle, although the point was enough for LA. The Galaxy join FC Dallas as the two Western Conference teams headed to the postseason.

[ RELATED: Who will take over as Liverpool manager? ]

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Robbie Keane capitalizes on Seattle’s mistake — Zach Scott misplayed a ball across the Sounders’ back line, as Robbie Keane intercepted the pass and finished one of the easiest goals he’s going to score. A true striker’s goal, Keane doesn’t miss ones like this.

64′ — Steven Gerrard denied by the woodwork — Los Angeles nearly made it 2-0 right after the hour mark, but Steven Gerrard was just inches off. Gerrard rose up to meet a corner kick from Juninho, but his header took a deflection and hit the crossbar before being cleared out of the box by Seattle.

90’+3′ — Chad Barrett finds a late, late equalizer — Just when it looked like LA was going to leave Seattle with a win, Chad Barrett stole a point for the Sounders. Marco Pappa whipped in a corner kick to the near post, which was flicked on by Brad Evans. Barrett surged into the box and got a knee on the ball as the match ended in a draw.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Steven Gerrard

Goalscorers: Keane (36′), Barrett (90’+3′)

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)