Chelsea held at Villa Park

Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 1

Luke Moore – the first player to score in the Premiership against Chelsea this season – again came up trumps to rescue a deserved point for David O’Leary’s side at Villa Park.

Moore came off the bench with quarter of an hour to go and within three minutes had turned home a centre from Mark Delaney for the equaliser.

That cancelled out Arjen Robben’s first-half effort – Chelsea’s 50th league goal of the campaign – and Villa were also convinced they should have been awarded a penalty for handball against Chelsea skipper John Terry.

Chelsea are still on course to retain the title long before May but this is perhaps the nearest to a blip they have suffered this season after being held to a third successive draw in all competitions.

Robben and the hard-working Joe Cole looked dangerous in the opening period for the Blues but Villa stuck to their guns and deserved a share of the spoils for their second-half performance.

Gareth Barry was impressive in midfield, Jlloyd Samuel had one of his best games at left-back, Mark Delaney was solid at centre-back, while predator Kevin Phillips twice almost twice found a way through the normally rock-solid Chelsea rearguard.

The opening exchanges were low key but after 14 minutes Barry squandered a decent opportunity to put Villa ahead.

Peter Cech only half-punched clear a centre from Milner and the ball fell to Barry 10 yards out but he completely mis-kicked and his shot flew high and wide.

Within 60 seconds Chelsea had opened the scoring with Robben’s fifth goal of the season.

William Gallas’s left-wing centre was chested down by Joe Cole to Robben and, despite the attentions of Olof Mellberg and Delaney, he was able to drill his shot past Thomas Sorensen.

Villa tried to retaliate and McCann was only just wide with an angled dipping drive from the edge of the area. Hernan Crespo became the first player to be booked after handling a centre from Cole.

Robben was looking sharp but Cole appeared upset when he went directly for goal after latching onto a through-ball from Eidur Gudjohnsen when the England player was unmarked in the middle, and in the end Sorensen made a comfortable save.

The home side appealed in vain for a penalty and handball against Terry after Barry had flicked the ball forward.

The ball appeared to catch Terry’s arm and referee Rob Styles was surrounded by furious Villa players but their protests were in vain.

Villa started to exert some pressure and Cech made his first meaningful save to turn aside a low header from Kevin Phillips from Milner’s centre at the expense of a corner.

There was low-key atmosphere around a far from capacity Villa Park but Barry brought the fans briefly to life with a rasping 20-yard angled drive which went only a foot past the post.

Robben had the first effort on goal of the second period after cutting in from the right flank but his low shot was comfortably dealt with by Sorensen.

McCann picked up a needless fifth booking of the season after handling a Milner corner and will now miss the home clash with Newcastle in 10 days’ time through suspension.

Glenn Johnson was also yellow-carded for a rash challenge on Samuel before Villa came close to equalising from the resulting free-kick by Milner after 68 minutes.

Baros tussled for the ball at the far post and it broke to Phillips who was only six yards out, but Gallas somehow managed to block his shot.

O’Leary brought on Moore and Juan Pablo Angel in place of Phillips and Baros after 75 minutes – and within three minutes Moore had equalised.

Delaney made good ground down the right before clipping the ball into the area and Moore was the first to react at the near post, bundling the ball over the line.

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