Romelu Lukaku starred after coming on as a substitute as Chelsea came back from a goal behind to beat Aston Villa 3-1 in the Premier League on Boxing Day.

Chelsea dominated the possession in the early stages, but Aston Villa posed a serious threat on the break, but neither team could carve out a clearcut chance until midway through the first half when Mason Mount’s cross/shot clipped the top of the crossbar. Close to the half-hour mark, Villa broke the deadlock as Matt Targett’s cross from the left struck Reece James’ head and looped into the Chelsea net.

However, the Blues struck back in the 34th minute through Jorginho’s cool penalty after Matty Cash had fouled Callum Hudson-Odoi in the box. Both teams had half-chances to double their advantage before half-time but failed to take them. Thomas Tuchel introduced Romelu Lukaku at half-time, and the Belgian almost immediately made an impact, with Emiliano Martinez having to be called into action.

Ten minutes into the second half, Lukaku did manage to put Chelsea in front with a fine header to turn home Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross. Mount should have made it 3-1 not long after but fired his effort wide after rounding Martinez while Hudson-Odoi also had a shot saved. Villa hardly mustered up any chance throughout the second half, while the visitors added a third in stoppage time through another Jorginho penalty after Ezri Konsa fouled Lukaku.

The victory sees Chelsea move level on points with second-placed Liverpool, while they remain six points off of leaders Manchester City. Meanwhile, Aston Villa stay in 11th place, with 22 points from 18 games. The Hard Tackle now takes a look at how both sets of players fared on the night at the Villa Park.

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Aston Villa Player Ratings

Emiliano Martinez: 6/10

The Argentine did not have much to do in the first period and made a couple of good stops in the second period to stop Lukaku and Hudson-Odoi. He had no chance with any of the three goals that Chelsea scored.

Matty Cash: 5/10

Cash started well and provided width going forward but gave away the penalty for the equaliser with a needless foul on Hudson-Odoi. He then had a hard time keeping Chelsea quiet in the second half.

Ezri Konsa: 6/10

A mixed outing for the defender, who made a few key blocks, especially in the second half when Chelsea were on the front foot. However, Konsa hauled down Lukaku to give away the penalty, from which Jorginho made it 3-1.

Tyrone Mings: 5/10

Not the best of nights for the Aston Villa skipper, who was put under constant pressure in the second half after Lukaku’s arrival. The England international was beaten easily by the Belgian international for the second goal and never really recovered after that moment.

Matt Targett: 6/10

The ex-Southampton ace started brightly like Cash on the opposite flank and provided an outlet going forward. It was his cross from the left that forced the own goal from Reece James. However, he struggled to cope with the pressure from the visitors after the break.

Morgan Sanson: 6/10

Making his first league start in over six months, the Frenchman exhibited some nice moments, including a breakaway in the first period when he capitalised on a loose ball from Jorginho to create a chance for Ollie Watkins. He passed the ball well for the most part, although he grew quiet as the game wore on.

Douglas Luiz: 7/10

One of Villa’s better players on the night, the Brazilian started brilliantly, playing nice through balls and long passes to launch counterattacks. Created a couple of chances for Watkins and Ings and worked hard off the ball as usual.

Jacob Ramsey: 6/10

Like Luiz, the young midfielder also acted as a source of chance-creation, playing through passes to set the likes of Watkins and Ings on their way. They gave the ball away, leading to the first penalty.

Emiliano Buendia: 5/10

He tried to make things happen when he got on the ball but failed to influence proceedings as much as he would have liked, misplacing quite a few passes. Grew frustrated as time wore on and made way for Carney Chukwuemeka in the second period.

Ollie Watkins: 6/10

In the first half, Watkins had some positive moments when he dropped in between the lines and tried to set Ings up for chances. He found himself in good positions on several occasions, but his shots were blocked. Not much of note after the break, as Chelsea were in control.

Danny Ings: 5/10

Back into the starting XI, the England international was sharp in his movement, but his decision-making left a lot to be desired in the final third. He failed to work the goalkeeper even once.

SUBSTITUTES

Bertrand Traore: 5/10

On for Ings in the 73rd minute, making a return after a long layoff. Traore did not make much of an impact against his former club.

Carney Chukwuemeka: 5.5/10

The youngster replaced Buendia in the 74th minute. He had an effort blocked.

Anwar El Ghazi: N/A

Came on for Sanson with less than 15 minutes left.

Chelsea Player Ratings

Edouard Mendy: 6/10

He was sharp and proactive in getting off his line a few times to cut out dangerous passes and denied Watkins a chance on one such occasion in the first half. He could not have done anything to stop James’ own goal. Not tested much on the night.

Trevoh Chalobah: 6/10

He was targeted by the Villa attackers in the early exchanges, with Watkins asking questions of him. Made a few blocks and stopped counterattacks, but was taken off at half-time for Lukaku as Tuchel changed the system.

Thiago Silva: 7/10

Solid as ever at the heart of the Chelsea defence upon returning to the lineup. Read the game well, stepped out when needed to cut out threats and was assured on the ball. Silva was taken off injured early in the second half.

Antonio Rudiger: 7/10

Reliable as usual at the back even though there were occasions when Villa tried to put him under pressure on the break. He kept things in check at the back and distributed well for most of the game.

Reece James: 5.5/10

One of his poorest displays this season. The Chelsea academy man struggled to stem the flow of Villa’s attacks on his side in the first half and diverted the ball into his own net to hand the hosts the lead. After the break, he moved into the three-man backline and was fairly solid thereafter.

N’Golo Kante: 7/10

Full of energy, as usual, the Frenchman broke up attacks regularly and drove Chelsea forward when he got on the ball. Kante was assured on the ball, misplacing just three passes and strong in his tackles before being taken off.

Jorginho: 8/10

Two penalties, two goals, never in doubt when he stepped up to take both the spot-kicks. The Italian couldn’t assert himself early in the game as Villa cut through the Blues midfield at times but grew into the game with time and helped Chelsea stay in control in the second half.

Marcos Alonso: 6.5/10

Not tested a great deal defensively by Villa, which allowed him to get forward regularly and provide an outlet on the left side. Delivered some teasing crosses while a few of his deliveries were blocked off easily. Booked.

Mason Mount: 7/10

Involved in almost everything positive that Chelsea conjured up in the final third, Mount came close to opening the scoring in the first period but struck the woodwork. The Englishman should have scored in the second half after beating Martinez. Worked hard off the ball, was influential on it.

Christian Pulisic: 5/10

Starting as a false nine yet again, the USMNT star struggled to exert any sort of influence on the proceedings in the first half. He moved to the wing-back slot after half-time but did not provide much impact from that position either.

Callum Hudson-Odoi: 7.5/10

Sharp in the final third, the Englishman won the penalty, which allowed Chelsea to equalise in the first half. Hudson-Odoi then got the assist for Lukaku’s goal before he was denied a goal by Martinez. He linked up well with those around him for the most part.

SUBSTITUTES

Romelu Lukaku: 9/10

What an impact from the bench. Replacing Chalobah at half-time, Lukaku made a huge difference with his presence on the pitch, providing a focal point in the Chelsea attack, causing many problems to the Villa defence. Put his team in front with a brilliant header and then won a late penalty to allow Jorginho to make it 3-1.

Andreas Christensen: 6.5/10

Solid after replacing the injured Silva in the second half.

Mateo Kovacic: 6.5/10

On for Kante a little after the hour mark. He made a few runs forward and almost created a chance for Lukaku.

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