Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa: El Ghazi earns Villa draw

Anwar El Ghazi rescued a point for Aston Villa with a neat side-foot finish at Stamford Bridge
Anwar El Ghazi rescued a point for Aston Villa with a neat side-foot finish at Stamford Bridge

Anwar El Ghazi scored his fifth goal in as many games as Aston Villa came from behind to earn a point against Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.

Villa were trailing to an Olivier Giroud header when El Ghazi scored a second-half equaliser that saw the in-form visitors stretch their unbeaten run to five games.

Dean Smith’s side started brightly but found themselves behind when Giroud marked his return to the Chelsea starting line-up with a trademark finish from Ben Chilwell’s cross.

Parity was restored five minutes after the interval, though, when the unmarked El Ghazi converted Matty Cash’s inviting delivery at the back post.

Both sides had chances to steal victory, with Villa coming closest when John McGinn smashed a thunderous long-range effort off the crossbar.

The result sees Villa move up to fifth in the table, level on points with sixth-placed Chelsea – with both sides now a point outside the top four.

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Villa have two games in hand on second-placed Leicester and are three points behind the Foxes.

Chelsea began the month with a 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions, but had lost three of their previous four games before facing Villa, and that meant the spotlight was on the west London club going into the match.

Boss Frank Lampard delivered on his promise to make changes from the side beaten at Arsenal and World Cup-winning France forward Giroud was one of six new faces in the starting line-up.

The Blues boss was looking for fresh impetus to kick-start his side’s season and Giroud, as he has so often done against Villa, came up with an answer.

The 34-year-old has now scored in three of his last four league starts for the club and he continued his fine form when he arched his back to guide Chilwell’s square ball past Emiliano Martinez.

Giroud has scored in each of his last seven Premier League appearances against Villa, netting nine goals, but the Blues lacked cutting edge in attack after Villa’s equaliser.

From nine second-half attempts, only three were on target, with Callum Hudson-Odoi producing the best effort with a low strike that was well saved by Martinez.

Chelsea spent about £200m this summer but Germany internationals Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were limited to just 18 minutes off the bench against Villa after taking time to settle since moving to the Premier League.

Lampard will be looking for more from Werner and the club’s record signing Havertz if they are to establish themselves in this season’s top four and push for silverware.