LONDON: Chelsea made it 13 goals in five as they thrashed Aston Villa 8-0 in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge to give their fans so much to cheer they had no time to jeer manager Rafa Benitez.
It could even have been 8-0 but young Brazilian substitute Piazon had an 89th-minute penalty saved brilliantly by keeper Brad Guzan who, amid the defensive carnage, was probably Villa’s best player.
The Blues had arrived back early in the week from Tokyo and the Club World Cup only in time to thump Leeds 5-1 at Elland Road in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.
Villa arrived in west London on the back of a mini revival but they were ripped to shreds by goals from Fernando Torres (three minutes), David Luiz (29), Brane Ivanovic (34), Frank Lampard (59 – on his 500th Premier League start), Ramires (75 and 90), Oscar (79 penalty) and Eden Hazard (83).
The resurrected Torres’s goal was his seventh in six games.
This was Chelsea’s biggest win since they beat Wigan by the same margin in May 2010 and Villa’s worst Premier League defeat. Victory lifted Chelsea back up to third place in the table, 10 points behind leaders Manchester United, albeit with one game in hand.
Earlier Manchester United missed the chance to extend their lead in the title race back to six points as Swansea striker Michu came out on top in the battle of the Premier League’s top scorers in a 1-1 draw.
Patrice Evra headed United into a 16th-minute lead from a Robin van Persie corner at the Liberty Stadium but Swansea levelled quickly as Michu finished from close range to move clear of Van Persie with his 13th league goal of term. United thus were left holding a four-point lead over champions Manchester City at Christmas.
In the heat of the aftermatch immediacy, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson suggested Van Persie “could have been killed” as he accused Swansea captain Ashley Williams of deliberately kicking a ball at the striker’s head from close range.
Van Persie fell after being tripped on the edge of the area and Williams cleared the ball into the back of the Dutchman’s head from close range. Van Persie reacted angrily and squared up to Williams. Referee Michael Oliver booked both players.
Ferguson said: “He [Van Persie] could have been killed. The FA has got to look into it regardless that he [Williams] has been given a yellow card. He should be banned for a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on a football field for many years.
“It was absolutely deliberate. The whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he has done that right in front of the referee, he could have killed the lad. It was a disgraceful act by the player, he should banned for a long time.”
Williams however insisted: “I tried to clear the ball, it hit him on the head. He was obviously a bit angry about that. It was a much ado about nothing.”
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