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Villa trip up Chelsea to send title race wide open

DUEL: Benteke, right, tussles with Cahill (PA)

ASTON VILLA struck a hammer blow to Chelsea's title ambitions which saw the Blues reduced to nine men at the end of this tempestuous game at Villa Park.

Adding insult to Chelsea's perceived injury, Blues boss Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands late on after he encroached onto the pitch following an ugly melee involving both sets of players following Ramires' studs up, two-footed lunge on Karim El Ahmadi, which was rightly punished by a red card for the midfielder from referee Chris Foy.

Ramires was given his marching orders and joined Willian who had received an earlier sending off, following his second yellow card for impeding an earlier Delph foray.

Inventive and up for the fight, Villa held on for a famous win, despite Chelsea's desperate search on a leveller.

Delph more of a peripheral figure at Villa Park, and greatly in the shadows of Christian Benteke and local man Gabriel Agbonlahor, struck the only goal after 82 minutes as Villa stung Chelsea at Villa Park in Saturday's late kick off

Delph burst through the midfield and found the willing Marc Albrighton out on the right. Screaming for the return pass, Albrighton fed his team mate, and with one twist of a back heel, managed to send the ball beyond not only the blue shirted defence, but also past a shocked Petr Cech. The lead was no more than Villa's football deserved, but not in their best case scenario would the Midlanders have envisaged not only a famous win, but also back-to-back home Premier League wins for the first time since August 2011.

Reports that Mourinho and captain John Terry tried to force their way into the referee's room after the final whistle were denied by the Chelsea manager who will no doubt be in receipt of an FA 'invite' to explain his actions both during the latter stages of the match and immediately afterwards.

Much of the talk will centre on the sendings off and what Mourinho perceived to be an unjust reaction, but that would take away from Villa's performance. Full of fight and vigour, many more Villa performances like this will see them comfortably avoiding the relegation scrap.

The home side threatened early and Andreas Weimann's cross fell right for Benteke, but the Belgian headed just wide of Cech's goal. Chelsea responded with Willian hitting just wide of Brad Guzan's goal. A promising break from El Hamadi looked to have caught Chelsea, but the Moroccan elected to hit from range when Leandro Bacuna was better placed to his right. El Hamadi, unspectacular but effective was fizzing along the midfield, a pass here, a back track there and but for a late switching off when Eden Hazard threatened held firm in the presence of the table toppers.

Villa's pacy and powerful approach should have been rewarded when Agbonlahor tried to burst though. Surrounded by four defenders, a pass to with Benteke out wide could have been more rewarding. Following another neat pass and movement created Benteke s sighter on Cech's goal but he hit just wide just before the break.

Villa had to be mindful of an early Chelsea attack and Hazard almost them cold, but the claret and blues cleared through Ron Vlaar. Oscar saw a side footed effort gathered by Guzan, but this was a Chelsea who seemed at odds with the task that was requeired. That didn't bother Villa as Benteke shot just wide again. Agbonlahor then raced away on the left to, feed Benteke, he fed Weimann, only to see his cross nearly get the opener just pass the hour mark.

After Willian had been red carded, the ten men of Chelsea still held firm.

Delph was energised and almost pulled Villa along with his momentum and hit just wide again. More Villa pressure saw Vlaar heade just wide from a late corner.

Delph finally got his and Villa's reward after 82 minutes to finish a fine move. The home side should have doubled their lead on 90 minutes.

And the goalscorer almost netted his second, but Cahill slid in a block which sent the shot ricocheting off his bar and for a corner, as Villa finished the match the stronger. It all got too much for Mourinho, who was sent to stands, after he went onto pitch to protest, but Chelsea were well beaten.

Perhaps he was right all along with regards to Chelsea's title challenge, or perhaps it is a case of his " little horse," choosing the wrong time to go lame.

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