Full-time: Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Villa's late pressure comes to nothing and Chelsea's have a victory that looked highly unlikely at half-time when they were down to 10 men after Ramires's red card and trailed to Christian Benteke's goal. But Benteke's moment of madness let them back into the game and, as so often been the case, two goals from Frank Lampard - two goals that made him their record goalscorer - turned the match in Chelsea's favour. More importantly, it means that they have more or less qualified for the Champions League, while Villa aren't safe yet. They're five points above Wigan, who will face next Sunday without the suspended Benteke, and have played a game more. Thanks for reading. Bye.
90 min+7: Late pressure from Villa here as Ivanovic heads behind for another corner!
90 min+6: Sylla's volley from the edge of the area is defleced and loops behind for a corner before Cech can stop it going out. Villa make a mess of the corner.
90 min+5: Luiz balloons a free-kick over the bar.
90 min+4: Chelsea are down to nine men now.
90 min+3: This is a worrying sight for Chelsea. After finishing that run, Hazard immediately felt his hamstring and won't be able to continue. It's gone and they've got a Europa League final to think about on Wednesday.
90 min+2: Villa are over-committed at the back and Torres sprays it out to Hazard on the left, allowing the Belgian to maraud upfield, sprinting away past Lichaj, who does well to recover and concede a corner as Hazard prepared to cut it back for Mata.
90 min+1: "Danny Rosé," honks Tony Cowards.
90 min: See? There will be seven minutes of stoppage time because of the injury to Terry. Before the goal, Fernando Torres came on for Demba Ba by the way.
THERE'S THE RECORD! Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea (Lampard, 88 min)
Frank Lampard becomes Chelsea's highest goalscorer of all time. See you later, Bobby Tambling! This is the 203rd goal of his Chelsea career and it might be the one that secures them Champions League football. How fitting. It was a great move too. Hazard played a give-and-go with Cole, whose pass that sliced open Villa's defence was exquisite. From the left, Hazard slammed the ball across goal and there was Lampard to tap it in from close range. There are Chelsea fans on the pitch ... but it's not over yet.
87 min: Weimann's cross from the right is headed away by Cahill but Delph tees up Westwood, who catches his shot so sweetly from 20 yards out, bringing the best out of Cech, who dives to his left to beat the ball away. A fine effort and a fine save.
86 min: Lampard's shot hits Ba and runs through to Guzan. "There must be hundreds of players with wine's names but Paulo Ferreira has a particularly good taste," says Francisco Leitao. "Better than that, the wine is named after a combination of player and former club."
84 min: Lampard picks up a fairly soft booking for a foul on Weimann as Villa try to break.
83 min: Of course, David Luiz scored a free-kick against Villa in the 8-0 earlier this season. Villa Park falls silent as he steps up to take this one and with good reason: he strikes the ball with that unique style of his and his side-footed effort swerves from left to right and right to left, drawing a good save out of Guzan, who manages to parry it to safety.
82 min: Chelsea are dominant now and Lichaj concedes another free-kick for a foul on Hazard. David Luiz's turn.
80 min: David Luiz steps away and allows Mata to take it but he bends it a yard wide with his left foot.
79 min: Mata nutmegs Westwood who exacts revenge by fouling Hazard 30 yards from goal. David Luiz and Juan Mata stand over it.
78 min: This was the chance for Lampard to set a new record. Azpilicueta's cross from the right found him but he could only power his header over the bar.
77 min: Branislav Ivanovic on, John Terry off. "Is Azpilicueta the only player with the same name as a wine?" says Alan Green, dealing with the important issues. "It's a Rioja."
76 min: Terry's left leg is in a brace.
75 min: I don't know what Terry has done, but he's still lying on the ground with his head in his hands. He's being put on to a stretcher. Not for the first time this season.
74 min: Now the Villa fans are jeering as Terry collapses in a heap after an awkward collision. That looks nasty. He won't continue.
72 min: Mata wins a corner off Lichaj on the left. It's swung in and Cahill manages to take the ball down on his chest, before somehow squeezing a shot past Guzan. The Chelse fans start celebrating only for Sylla to knock it off the line! Ba tried to bundle it in but Westwood again denied him. Replays show that the ball wasn't over from Cahill's shot but that Ba might have turned it in. There were inches in it though. It was impossible to tell. Cahill's shot might also have hit Baker's hand.
71 min: "Are you absolutely certain that John Terry is being jeered for having been kicked?" says Rob Marriott. "Could it not be that Terry is being booed because, well, he's John Terry and it's the natural, normal reaction. I'd be surprised if he isn't booed by the checkout staff at the supermarket, by his doctor, by the postman and small children in the park."
Well I'm not saying it's necessarily wrong to boo John Terry but the jeers came immediately after Benteke's red card.
70 min: "Benteke has had seven yellow cards all season," says Gary Naylor. "He could have had about four in less than an hour today. I'll never understand why players act the way they do."
68 min: Weimann's low cross is deflected to Delph, who spins in the area and then hoicks a shot over the bar. Villa have responded well to Lampard's equaliser.
67 min: Villa go so close to regaining their lead. Lichaj scampers down the right, away from Hazard, and his low cross is inadvertently turned on to the roof of his own net by Cole.
66 min: Cole gets in behind on the left but his cross isn't quite right for Ba at the near post. "Perhaps I was a bit too hasty," says Damien Neva. "Stupider Villa."
65 min: Sylla sends a pass out to Weimann on the right but his first-time cross on the volley goes straight to Cech. Nice idea, but.
64 min: Of course, Benteke's red card will not only have implications for Villa but on the relegation battle as a whole because he'll be suspended when Villa go to Wigan next week. Bad news for Norwich, Newcastle and Sunderland.
63 min: What was Christian Benteke thinking of?
NUMBER 202! Aston Villa 1-1 Chelsea (Lampard, 61 min)
Frank Lampard equals Bobby Tambling's record of 202 goals for Chelsea. And what a goal it was too. It looked like Chelsea were going nowhere deep on the right flank but when Juan Mata managed to flick a pass to Eden Hazard, he cut inside and then passed it to his left for Lampard, who allowed the ball to run across his body, before thumping a left-footed shot high past Guzan and into the top-right corner. It did take a nick off Baker on its way in but it was probably beating Guzan anyway. Oh Villa.
60 min: John Terry is being booed for being kicked. Football fans.
CHRISTIAN BENTEKE IS SENT OFF!
58 min: Will they ever learn? Christian Benteke leaves his boot high and sends his stud into John Terry's side, earning himself a second yellow card and a red card. That was so, so stupid. There goes Villa's one-man advantage - and their best player - and suddenly it feels like the momentum has shifted Chelsea's way.
56 min: Delph has a pop from 25 yards out. No. "Chelsea supporter here," says Damien Neva. "Stupid Chelsea, that is all."
55 min: Villa are piling on the pressure. Delph finds room in the middle but his pass out to Agbonlahor seems to halt the momentum slightly. He has to roll it back to Bennett, whose cross-shot takes a deflection and loops inches past the far post with Cech stranded. The corner comes to nothing.
54 min: Chelsea haven't mustered much of a response yet.
52 min: Benteke holds off a couple of challenges on the edge of the box and tries to get a shot away. He can't quite find the room, so finds Weimann on the right of the area. He cuts inside and then produces a comical air-kick as he goes to shoot. Whoops. Chelsea can't get it clear though and Sylla is soon bursting on to a loose ball and blasting one over the bar from 18 yards out. That should be the end of it but it's not long before Agbonlahor is running at Azplicueta and blazing high and wide from the left.
50 min: It's been a soporific start to this second half. Villa must take care not to become complacent. Chelsea are still in this.
48 min: "Sitting here in an empty pub in Horwich having witnessed the most exciting Villa team in years giving Chelsea a bit of a trying time," says Michael Woulfe. "I would like to publically thank Stilyan Guzan, Stilyan Lichaj, Still and Baker, Stilyan Vlaar, Stilyan Bennett, , Stilyan Delph, Stilyan Westwood, Stilyan Sylla, Stilyan Weimann, Stilyan Benteke and the glorious Stilyan Agbonlahor. Not forgetting Sir Alex Lambert. Being a lone Villa fan is a thankless existence at times but you have made it more than bearable. Now in the second half can we have a little payback for December. Clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet, clean sheet..."
47 min: Chelsea attack straight away but once they lose the ball, Villa spring into action. Agbonlahor tries to emulate Benteke's goal by beating Cahill on the outside but this time the Chelsea defender reads his intentions and blocks his shot out for a corner which comes to nothing. There are inevitably going to be chances for Villa on the break though.
46 min: Here we go again. Chelsea have brought on David Luiz for the miserably ineffective Victor Moses at half-time. "I hate being cynical, but watching that replay of Ramires throwing his legs around in a Worlds Silliest Walk fashion, I would suspect he got a great deal at Thomas Cook leaving next weekend?" says Annie Scarborough. "Hmmm? I also reckon Galatasaray are about to have their hand bitten off with the Terry performance. Turkish strikers can't run fast, right?"
Half-time: Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea
Lee Mason brings an end to a half that could hardly have gone better for Villa. They lead thanks to Christian Benteke's fine goal and are also a man up after Ramires's red card. Chelsea are in a stop of bother out there. It's Villa's to lose. Said that before, though.
45 min+1: There will be two minutes of added time.
RAMIRES IS SENT OFF!
45 min: But they like him now! The ball is bouncing around the middle of the park and Ramires totally loses his head. He's lucky to get away with one high foot dangled near Benteke but doesn't learn his lesson, as he then catches Agbonlahor. It wasn't the worst challenge you'll ever see - it's hardly one to rival Nigel de Jong or Bobby Zamora - but a clear second yellow card. Off he goes. Chelsea are down to 10 men.
44 min: Lee Mason has not endeared himself to the Villa fans with that call.
42 min: Sylla, growing in stature with each passing minute, smothers Ramires and wins the ball off the Brazilian with a well-timed challenge. He then manages to poke the ball past Terry and would have had a run on goal from around 30 yards out if the Chelsea captain hadn't brought him down. The Vila fans scream for a red card but Lee Mason shows him a yellow, pointing out that Ashley Cole was coming across from the left to cover. It's the right decision, not that the Villa fans agree.
41 min: Villa appeal for a penalty as Baker's header from a deep corner hits Cahill on the shoulder. Nothing doing.
40 min: Sylla, who looks like a player, strides forward confidently before feeding Weimann, whose cross from the right is headed behind for a corner.
37 min: You would have heard more about this if it had ended up as a Chelsea equaliser. Bizarrely both teams stopped with the ball over on the Chelsea right, each assuming that the whistle had gone for either a throw-in or a free-kick to whoever. It hadn't, though, and Chelsea realised first, allowing them to begin a move through the middle with Villa still half-asleep. Hazard wriggled clear on the left and rolled a pass to Lampard, who made space for a shot from the edge of the area. His territory. But Baker blocked his goalbound effort.
36 min: Azpilicueta is down after being caught by Benteke's elbow. He's booked, perhaps because it looked more like an accident than anything sinister.
35 min: It's all a bit plodding from Chelsea, as it was against Manchester United last Sunday. They need to up the pace, if they're capable of doing so.
33 min: There's the chant of "Jose Mourinho" from the Chelsea fans. They know what they want and they want it now.
32 min: "Which club do you think Benteke will be playing for next season?" says Ben Monk. "Spurs?" No idea. They could do with him, though most clubs could. Villa are hopeful of keeping him.
30 min: How on earth did that stay out? Lampard slams the free-kick at quite some pace, the ball fizzing through the all and skidding off the wet surface as it hurtles towards Guzan. It was a fairly central effort but the pace and the wet surface combined to make it difficult for Guzan, who would have seen it late. He plunges down to his left and gets enough on his parry to turn the ball to the left and can only watch in hope as it slithers away and on to the base of the left post. That all happened in slow motion - but he's up quickly to stop Cahill turning the rebound home, at the expense of a corner.
29 min: Villa were at their clumsy worst here. Mata crosses from the right and once it's headed away at the far post, it should be cleared by Agbonlahor, who only succeeds in slicing the ball up into the air before bringing down Hazard around 25 yards out. A chance for Lampard.
27 min: Another lighting Villa counter-attack gives Chelsea something to think about. For a moment, Agbonlahor is all alone at the middle, only for Weimann to slip before he can cross it from the left. No matter, they stay on the attack, Benteke making a nuisance of himself. Eventually Westwood cleverly volleys a pass to Weimann on the left of the area but although he takes the ball down skillfully, he can't get round Azpilicueta.
26 min: Hazard reverses a pass through to Cole on the left but Westwood blocks his low cross at source. Chelsea remain a threat.
25 min: Chelsea's first corner of the match. Mata swings it in from the right and it's headed away at the near post before Delph completes the clearance.
23 min: Chelsea almost find an equaliser. Mata, afforded too much space 30 yards from goal, moves the ball on to his wand of a left foot and wands a pass over the top of the Villa defence for Ba, running in from left to right. He takes the ball in his stride but the wet surface gives Guzan a chance to charge down Ba's shot as he slides in. The ball squirms away from the pair of them but Ba can't get up in time to tap it in before a Villa defender mops up the mess.
22 min: It was something of a surprise that Cech was beaten at his near post for Benteke's goal but he seemed to be caught out by early the shot was hit and the unorthodox way that Benteke stabbed it goalwards.
20 min: Here's the applause for Petrov from the Villa fans. Watching from the stands, he bites his lip and appears to fight back the teams. His team are doing him proud at the moment.
19 min: "I used to know a guy who contracted a flesh-eating bacteria which rotted his swingers off, so Martin Braonin's mate could go with that," says Mac Millings. "The gentleman in question got a million dollars in compensation for medical negligence. Not sure that was enough."
17 min: Villa have their tails up now and after a free-kick is only half-cleared, Delph skips forward and rams a fierce left-footed effort wide of the goal and into the stanchion from 25 yards out.
16 min: Ramires is booked for cleaning out Benteke. Revenge!
GOAL! Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea (Benteke, 15 min)
This was so simple and yet so brilliant from Benteke. A long ball was punted forward towards Benteke, who held off Cahill and then laid it off to Sylla, waiting unopposed in the centre circle. Sylla instantly knocks a pass back towards Benteke, by now on the run and one-on-one with Cahill. He ran at the Chelsea defender who got himself into a rare old panic. As Benteke charged into the area, he went round the outside of Cahill as if he wasn't there and then slipped a shot past Cech at his near post.
13 min: Lampard tries to ping one through for Ba but Vlaar steps in and then steps away adroitly away from Ramires, before trying to launch a pass through to Benteke, who can't pluck the ball out of the sky with an outstretched right leg. It's a lot of midfield toing and froing at the moment. Cagey stuff indeed.
12 min: It's tipping it down now. It sounds as if you can hear the rain falling on the roof of the stands. Could just be my ears though. Uh oh.
10 min: The game has settled into a neat pattern now. Chelsea are largely dominating possession and seeking to bring Hazard, who's seeing a lot of the ball on the left, into the game as much as possible. He's not been able to pick out a killer pass yet, however, and when Chelsea do lose the ball, Villa have been quick to break, using the pace of their front three to good effect. And yet their final pass has been lacking in direction too.
8 min: Hazard diddles his way down the left and somehow digs out a cross from the byline when it looked like he had run out of room. It's a delicious delivery too, but Baker heads it away firmly enough.
7 min: Ramires hoicks a straight pass over the Villa defence, through for Moses. He knocks it down to Ba, who turns it over the bar from close range - but the flag had long been raised against Moses for offside, thus sparing the pair's embarrassment.
6 min: Agbonlahor gets an early chance to use his pace against Terry on the right. It looks ominous for the Chelsea captain momentarily but he stands up well and stops Villa's striker from getting round him, shepherding the ball out for a goal-kick. Excellent defending.
4 min: Nathan Baker will have to watch his step for the next 86 minutes. He steams through the back of Mata, sending him flying. He did get the ball but also got a hefty chunk of the Spaniard and despite his protestations, he's booked.
3 min: This is a promising move from Villa. In the middle of the park, Delph scampers past Ramires with a nifty turn away from the Brazilian. He slides a pass into the area for Benteke, who looks to have a sight of goal for a moment. The ball ends up with Weimann on the right though and eventually to Sylla on the right. His cross is cleared.
2 min: Chelsea's fans are singing about going to Amsterdam. They must all have some great excuses for missing work, unlike Martin Braonin's mate.
Peep! And we're off, Chelsea getting the game underway and attacking from right to left in the first half. It's not long before Terry smashes a pass down the left and out for a goal-kick to Villa. Start as we mean to go on. "Re a good excuse for missing work, India's opening batsman, Virender Sehwag, was once unable to take the field due to discomfort," says Gary Naylor. "Florent Malouda missed a World Cup match (I think) due to piles and the less said about Shoaib Akhtarm the better."
Here come the teams. There's a cracking atmosphere inside a wet Villa Park. It really isn't Cup Final day, is it. Aston Villa are in their claret and blue strips, Chelsea are in their black away kit.
HELP THE ECONOMY
"My mate has a ticket for the game on Weds and has to ring in sick for 2 days," says Martin Braonin. "Looks like he will go with a tummy trouble but would welcome any more convincing excuses. He's had 3 days off in the last 8 years. He has to ring in from the port as they are open at 8 and his ferry is a bit after that."
Hang on a minute. There was a Fast & Furious 5?
Rafa Benitez, the case for and the case against. You decide.
"I take your point about Benitez (as made here and on the pod); Chelsea should be challenging for the title," says Roy Allen. "But I feel your criticisms would be more valid had Benitez been there for the whole season. Taking over a top team mid season can't be easy, as there is less margin for error than with a mid table team. Some error is inevitable when changing a team's tactics half way through a season. I think he's done a fine job, especially given the stupid antipathy towards him from his own team's fans from day 1."
"Completely agree with what you say about Benitez in the preamble," says David Wall. "People seem to have re-imagined it as him jumping onto the deck of a burning ship and putting out fires to keep the ship afloat against all odds, but in fact Chelsea started the season fantastically, and were playing super football. It's true, they had hit a patch of poor form and were likely to go out of the Champions' League, but they were far from out of contention in the Premier League, were still in all the other competitions, and it seems pretty likely that if Di Matteo had been given even another month they might have regained something like their earlier form. People shouldn't forget that he was trying to integrate into the team quite a few players who were new to England, so it was to be expected that they would have fluctuations in form. What's especially galling about Benitez is that he seems to have no awareness of all of this himself. He seems to genuinely believe that he's rescued them single-handed-ly. Say what you like about Mourinho's ego but at least he knows that he's got a big ego and is honest and playful about it."
The teams are in and Aston Villa are without Matthew Lowton. Eric Lichaj replaces him at right-back. As for Chelsea, David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic - who has two goals in two matches against Villa - Oscar and Fernando Torres - who has two goals in two matches against Villa. They're replaced by John Terry, Frank Lampard, Victor Moses and Demba Ba.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lichaj, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett; Westwood, Delph, Sylla; Weimann, Agbonlahor, Benteke. Subs: Given, Holman, Williams, Gardner, Bent, Bowery, N'Zogbia.
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Hazard, Mata, Moses; Ba. Subs: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Luiz, Torres, Oscar, Benayoun, Ake.
Referee: Lee Mason
There's going to be emotion on display at Villa Park after this week's news that Stilian Petrov due to his acute leukemia. The Bulgarian midfielder has thanked Villa's fans in the programme notes. "Aston Villa will always remain in my heart," he wrote. "I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given here and, to the fans, I am so grateful for the way you have supported meover the years, especially during the past 14 months or so when you have stood with me and everything I have gone through, during the 19th minute. This has touched me profoundly. To have been part of this for seven years was enough to know that I have been part of something unique and special. Up the Villa!"
Paul Lambert paid tribute to Petrov, too. "The 19th minute has become a symbolic expression of the special bond between Stan Petrov and the club," he said. "His retirement from football is secondary, ultimately, to his health and that he is winning his battle makes us all really happy. That he is here (at the game) today is inspiring to everyone associated with Villa. But the truth is that we know he'll always be here."
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the warm-up act for this
afternoon's evening's FA Cup final. True to form, the authorities, in their infinite wisdom, have managed to schedule a crucial Premier League match before what should be the season's last hurrah – tradition be damned, though. Here we are, so we'd better enjoy it. It is football, after all, and you can never have enough Ferguson Moyes football Ferguson.
Aston Villa and Chelsea, then. And in many ways, this could be seen as a tribute to the final FA Cup final played at Wembley, back in 2000, a stinking affair that lives short in the memory and which Chelsea won 1-0, Gianluca Vialli's final trophy before being shown the door by Kuddly Ken Bates a few months later. It was a terrible match where basically nothing happened until Chelsea, who finished a disappointing fifth to Villa's acceptable sixth, sealed their second FA Cup in four years when David James flapped at a Gianfranco Zola free-kick, pushed the ball into Gareth Southgate's chest and watched helplessly as Roberto Di Matteo smashed it into the net from close range with 17 minutes to go.
Ah, Di Matteo. Remember him? This time last year he was busy winning the Champions League and FA Cup for Chelsea, not that it did him much good in the end. November came, Di Matteo went and in came Rafael Benitez as interim manager. It's been said that Benitez, who'll be on his way at the end of the season, has done a fine job at Chelsea, but consider this: no challenge for the title, defeat to Swansea in the Capital One Cup, defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup, defeat to Corinthians in the Club World Cup and defeat to QPR in an actual football match. It will be pointed out that they're also in Wednesday's Europa League final, to which the only response is: yeah but Sparta Prague, Steaua Bucharest, Rubin Kazan and Basel.
Still, victory here will ensure Jose Mourinho - OR WHOEVER CHELSEA ARE GOING TO HIRE NEXT - doesn't have to bother with the Europa League next season. It'll be tough, though. Villa aren't the same side that was obliterated 8-0 (EIGHT NIL!) at Stamford Bridge back in December and their last match at Villa Park saw them hand out a thrashing of their own, a 6-1 smack in the mouth for Sunderland. Villa, inspired by Chrstian Benteke's hat-trick, were brilliant on that night, playing a scintillating brand of football that should see them in good stead next season, assuming they stay up. Victory here will secure safety for Lambert's Lambs and ensure they have nothing to worry about when they travel to Wigan next Sunday for what would be the penultimate match of the season in a perfect world.