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Premier League: Chelsea 1 Aston Villa 3

Chelsea failed to win for the fourth Premier League game in a row as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa.

Didier Drogba grabbed the opener for his side from the penalty spot before Stephen Ireland bundled home to send the sides in level at half-time.

Despite the second-half introduction of Fernando Torres, the Blues could not find a breakthrough and they saw Stiliyan Petrov and substitute Darren Bent heap more misery on them with late goals which gave Alex McLeish’s side the win.

Chelsea struggled to find fluency in the opening exchanges as Villa stuck to their defensive task admirably, but a clumsy Richard Dunne tackle on Drogba handed the hosts a penalty which the Ivorian duly dispatched.

The goal did little, however, to dispel Chelsea’s stuttering start and it was unsurprising when the visitors hit back just five minutes later.

Charles N’Zogbia burst into the box after being released by Ireland, who then received the Frenchman’s cutback before firing home at his second attempt.

Another swift exchange between N’Zogbia and Ireland saw Gabriel Agbonlahor through onto goal, but the Villa striker could not provide the finishing touch and drove the ball straight into Petr Cech’s legs.

Torres then hit a fierce drive from the edge of the box that crashed off the Villa bar just seconds after his introduction.

Villa continued to provide stubborn resistance against the reinvigorated hosts and Marc Albrighton even served a reminder of his side’s menace with a volley which tested Cech at his near post.

Villa then stole the lead when Ciaran Clark found captain Petrov in space in a disorganised Chelsea defence and the midfielder steered the ball home.

Ireland, who had proved brilliant throughout his return to the first team, then intercepted Frank Lampard’s loose pass to find himself through on goal, and he unselfishly fed substitute Bent who forced the ball past Cech to seal the points for the visitors.

Sat 31 December, 2011
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