Tuchel influential after inspired change sees Chelsea edge out Aston Villa

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku celebrating with Marcos Alonso and Callum Hudson-Odoi

Thomas Tuchel went early with a crucial change after substitute Romelu Lukaku notched the matchwinner just 10 minutes after coming on versus Aston Villa.

Aston Villa were without John McGinn and Ashley Young to face Chelsea. Danny Ings and Morgan Sanson came in for Steven Gerrard’s side, with the manager absent after contracting Covid-19. Jorginho and Callum Hudson-Odoi replaced Hakim Ziyech and Cesar Azpilicueta, who dropped to the bench for the visitors.

Thiago Silva once again proved his worth when preventing an almost certain goal in the 11th minute. Ollie Watkins broke free down the left and sought Danny Ings through the middle with his cut-back.

The classy figure of Silva was perfectly positioned, however, getting a foot in to prevent an Ings tap-in.

Mason Mount then came close to scoring a goal of the season contender. The midfielder cut inside near the corner of the box before curling a sublime effort onto the crossbar.

With the two sides struggling to carve out clear-cut chances, the deadlock was broken in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Reece James attempted to intercept a Matt Targett cross, but his header only succeeded in lofting the ball over the despairing Edouard Mendy as Villa took the lead via an own goal.

That sparked Chelsea into life and within minutes, the visitors were level.

Callum Hudson-Odoi nipped in ahead of Matty Cash before drawing a foul in the penalty area. Jorginho stepped up and sent Emiliano Martinez the wrong way to restore parity.

Villa looked on course to re-take the lead after Morgan Sanson played Watkins through. However, the quick reactions of Mendy proved crucial with the goalkeeper racing off his line to intercept the pass a split second before Watkins could latch on.

Tuchel changes the game for Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel introduced Romelu Lukaku to the action at half-time. The Belgian replaced centre-back Trevoh Chalobah, indicating Tuchel’s unhappiness with his side’s first-half showing.

A second sub was made in quick succession after the restart, though it was not one Tuchel had in mind. Andreas Christensen replaced Silva who appeared to be labouring with an injury.

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It took Lukaku just 10 minutes to make his mark after clever movement saw the striker nod his side in front.

Hudson-Odoi curled a cross into an area which Lukaku could attack. The hitman reacted quicker than Tyrone Mings before glancing his header beyond the stricken Martinez.

The lead should have been doubled when Mason Mount failed to score after Martinez went walkabout.

The Blues midfielder latched on to a through ball with Martinez’s errant slide removing him from the equation. But with just Tyrone Mings to beat, Mount screwed his finish wide of the post.

A sensational save from Martinez denied Chelsea a third through Hudson-Odoi as the game became stretched in the latter stages.

Chelsea caught Villa on the break in injury time when Lukaku proved too hot to handle for both Matt Targett and Ezri Konsa. After outmuscling Targett, Konsa could do little but hack Lukaku down inside the area.

Jorginho put the game to bed with his second strike from the spot as Chelsea left Villa Park with all three points.

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