Chelsea Dunne and dusted by pure hard work

Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 1: Ancelotti's midfield diamond not allowed to sparkle as Villa use their heads to exploit defensive lapses

A fixture that Chelsea won in Guus Hiddink's first League game last February with an early goal seemed to be going precisely the same way when Brad Friedel allowed Didier Drogba to score from 30 yards. Eight months on, however, Aston Villa have more about them than the side that faded so badly after that defeat last season and by profiting from some unusually poor defensive work they scored twice from corners to achieve another victory over one of the acknowledged big four to follow success at Liverpool in August.

Friedel and James Collins, who had been too easily turned for Drogba's goal, recovered well, the goalkeeper bringing off a series of saves to preserve the lead. James Milner, having demonstrated his versatility for England by filling in at left-back on Wednesday, was excellent on more familiar ground wide on the right, where he worked prodigiously before moving back inside as Villa retreated into a 4-5-1 formation for the final quarter of an hour.

Emile Heskey, another England candidate in need of playing time, was given only 10 minutes as a substitute and cannot expect to displace John Carew in the big Norwegian's current form; Ashley Young, dropped by Fabio Capello, and Gabriel Agbonlahor, who replaced him in the squad, were fitfully impressive, two inswinging corners by the right- footed Young bringing the goals.

The visitors worked some neat triangles in midfield but were dependent as ever on the full-backs to supply their width and even when Joe Cole was introduced for his first League appearance of the season towards the end, he went into Deco's role behind the two strikers. Carlo Ancelotti might have been expected to send John Terry forward for the final fling; instead his team continued to try threading short balls through the needles of the Villa defence. It was a packed defence by then, and with Richard Dunne another lionheart alongside Collins, Drogba and Nicolas Anelka were continually crowded out.

Villa's manager Martin O'Neill said: "Maybe we've learnt some lessons from last year. When we played Chelsea in February we were third in the table, going strong but we surrendered fourth spot and finished sixth. I think we've made progress, we've got some good players and a decent squad and that's been really encouraging."

Having been brought down to earth in embarrassing and painful fashion on the touchline when Anelka crashed into him, O'Neill is now hoping that he and his players will keep their feet on the ground. "It's a setback for Chelsea and a great boost for us, but I wouldn't draw 15 conclusions from one game. I think Chelsea are a great side."

As in defeat at Wigan recently, they rarely looked like one yesterday. Pushed back while Villa started as brightly as the autumn sunshine, they must have surprised themselves in taking the lead after 15 minutes; all the more so since the vastly experienced Friedel was at fault on his 198th consecutive League appearance.

Frank Lampard played an ordinary pass forward for Drogba, who turned it into a threatening one with his sudden turn past Collins. The shot from almost 30 yards was routine until it bounced in front of the goalkeeper, who would have kept it out had he not gone to ground, watching in anguish as the ball reared up over his arm.

Before half-time there were further opportunities for Deco and Drogba, but Friedel redeemed himself with a superb save and Collins blocked bravely. In between times, critically, Villa had won an equaliser. Young whipped over a corner from the left, and Lampard merely nudged his header dangerously across goal, where Dunne was unmarked to head in for the second successive match.

Chelsea were rattled, Drogba running 20 yards to bawl out Ashley Cole, who was immediately booked for an unnecessary foul. Worse, they conceded another bad goal only six minutes into the second half. It was almost what Match of the Day used to call an action replay: Young's corner, dreadful marking with the goalkeeper Petr Cech nowhere and a firm header by an unattended centre-half – this time Dunne's partner Collins.

Ancelotti's initial reaction was that his team had played "a good match". Further analysis of the videotape before he concentrates on Atletico Madrid this week may offer conflicting evidence.

Ref watch

Steve Bennett having declared himself unfit – no jokes please, Sir Alex – the fourth official Kevin Friend took over for his third Premier League match of the season and handled it well.

Steve Tongue

Attendance: 39,047

Referee: Kevin Friend

Man of the match: Milner

Match rating: 8/10

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?