Chelsea drop points at home; Leicester inch up to second

Sports Desk, Dec 28 (EFE).- Chelsea could manage no more than a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in Monday’s Premier League contest at Stamford Bridge despite dominating possession and creating more chances.

The Blues led at half-time on a great goal by 34-year-old Olivier Giroud, but Anwar El Ghazi equalized for Villa early in the second period and the visitors hung on to come away with a point.

Though Chelsea gave a much better account of themselves than in Saturday’s embarrassing 3-1 derby defeat to Arsenal, they have won only once in their last five outings, a stretch that also included losses to Everton and Wolverhampton.

The hosts began well and surged ahead in the 34th minute on Giroud’s header off a Ben Chilwell cross.

Five minutes into the second half, a long ball from Matty Cash found El Ghazi unmarked at the far post and he beat Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to make it 1-1.

The results leaves the two teams level on points at 26, but Villa are fifth in the table – one step above Chelsea – by virtue of better goal difference.

“The response was exactly right other than the win,” Chelsea coach Frank Lampard told the BBC’s “Match of the Day” after the final whistle.

“We had a couple of little chances. It felt like the pressure was coming from us. This is our tough period at the moment. We have to fight for it and we’ll be stronger for it,” the Blues’ all-time leading scorer said.

Earlier Monday in another corner of London, Crystal Palace bounced back after losing two in a row by a combined score of 10-0 to earn a point against Leicester City.

The Foxes, with 67 percent possession, had a chance to take the lead in the 19th minute when the referee awarded a penalty after Palace’s James Tomkins fouled Luke Thomas in the area.

Jamie Vardy is Leicester’s usual penalty-taker, but coach Brendan Rodgers left the man who scored 13 goals for the side this season on the bench to start the match, so the task fell to Kelechi Iheanacho, whose weak shot was saved by Palace keeper Vicente Guaita.

The match-clock was approaching the hour mark when Wilfried Zaha put Palace on the board with an assist from Andros Townsend.

With his eighth goal in 14 appearances this season, the Ivorian forward doubled his output for all of the 2019-2020 campaign.

Palace were closing in on a first victory in six matches when Leicester’s Harvey Barnes scored with a great individual effort to make it 1-1 in the 83rd minute. EFE Leicester City move up to second place with 29 points, 2 behind defending champions Liverpool. Palace are 8 points clear on the drop zone in 13th.


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