Villa throw away 2 goal lead against Chelsea but qualify for the Europa League

Aston Villa qualified for the Europa League with three Premier League games remaining following a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Villa Park.

The result leaves Villa seven points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, having played two more games.

It means, if Tottenham were to win all of their remaining games, they could finish on 75 points. Whereas if Villa were to win their remaining games, they would finish a point above on 76 points but let’s not forget, this is the Premier League and nothing is ever straightforward.

It’s a weird position to be in because if we were to fall at the final hurdle in the Premier League we would be disappointed but if you were to ask any Villa fan if they would take top five this season before a ball was kicked, they would have snapped your hand off.

But for now, it is in our own hands. It is ours to lose. Among our European Semi-Finals, we have three Premier League cup finals to make our Champions League dream a reality.

Report: Aston Villa 2-2 Chelsea

Aston Villa made just one change from the side that beat Bournemouth last weekend as the suspended Douglas Luiz returned with Moussa Diaby unlucky to drop to the bench.

Chelsea made three changes of their own following their defeat to Arsenal last week. Cole Parmer returned from illness while Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalabah were handed starts.

The visitors have had a strange season with some highs but many lows. Some would argue their visit to Villa Park earlier this season in the cup was one of their best performances of the season so we knew it was always going to be a difficult encounter. This visit was no different, in fact, I would argue, that they have been the best visiting side to come to Villa Park this season.

The home side got out of the traps quickly and it took them just four minutes to take the lead. Lucas Digne punished Noni Madueke who was poor defensively before John McGinn’s effort on goal deflected off Marc Cucurella and into the back of the net.

Despite their lead, Villa sat deep and struggled to get into the game and it wasn’t long before the visitors were level, or so they thought. Nicolas Jackson thought he had broken Villa’s high line when he slotted the ball into the corner of the net only for VAR to rule the goal out for offside.

Jackson came close again later in the half but he could only direct his free header onto the Villa post and they were soon punished for the miss when Morgan Rodgers fired from the edge of the box to make it 2-0.

I spoke with fellow Villa fans at half-time and I was hoping for an improvement in the performance but we couldn’t complain about the scoreline. It flattered Villa but there is always that worry when Villa have a two-goal lead, even Ollie Watkins has expressed his worries in the past!

There was a major blow for Unai Emery at half-time when Emi Martinez was replaced by Robin Olsen due to injury, joining Youri Tielemans who had been substituted in the first half.

Chelsea were back in the game early in the first half. Conor Gallagher robbed Luiz on the edge of the box before allowing Madueke to curl the ball into the far corner.

The visitors continued to dominate without looking like a real threat until 9 minutes from full-time when Gallagher scored a superb strike curling into the top corner to pull the game level.

It left the game open for a frantic finish.

First, a chance fell to Watkins who was quiet throughout the game but he squandered the chance, blasting it over the bar.

Then it was the chance of Palmer when he ran through various Villa players to find himself one-on-one with Olsen who denied him turning his shot wide of the goal.

Five minutes into injury time Chelsea had the ball in the back of the net through Axel Disasi but for the second time in the game, VAR would rule it out, this time due to a foul.

It felt like two points dropped given the two-goal advantage but Villa were second-best throughout so I think in hindsight, it was probably a point gained rather than two lost.

What the managers said

Emery: “We are very happy because today we achieved the first thing – improving. We wanted to play Europa League last year and now we have a new challenge, which is to play Champions League.

“Chelsea today showed the power. But we are being consistent – to draw at the end is a very good result.”

Mauricio Pochettino: “The referee is unbelievable and it’s ridiculous. It is difficult to accept.

“Two weeks ago it was handball and it was no penalty – the referee, he didn’t check it.

“It is painful as it has damaged English football and I think Villa players and their fans didn’t understand why the goal was disallowed.”

Up Next

Aston Villa will welcome Olympiacos to Villa Park on Thursday in the first leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League. They will return to Premier League action next Sunday when they head to Brighton.

Chelsea will welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Thursday evening.

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