LONDON (AP) Diego Costa returned to Chelsea’s starting line-up and led his side to a 2-0 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, easing the pressure on manager Jose Mourinho.
Costa had served a three-match ban for violent conduct in Chelsea’s victory against Arsenal in September but his side was winless in the league games he missed.
Chelsea’s last game at Stamford Bridge was an emphatic 3-1 loss to Southampton but it was different with Costa spearheading the attack. This win, only Chelsea’s third in the league this season, never looked in doubt and sees Chelsea rise to 11th in the standings on 11 points.
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”I told the players this is not a moment to think about themselves or their personal situation, it’s a moment for the team,” Mourinho said. ”The way Diego was working in the past two weeks, I knew clearly he would bring something positive for us.”
After a tentative start from both teams, Mourinho’s side was gifted its opening goal, when Villa defender Joleon Lescott could not control a pass from United States goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 34th minute.
Willian stole possession and centered for Costa, who was waiting to convert with a simple finish.
And the Spain striker forced the second goal for Chelsea 20 minutes later in the second half, when his shot was deflected past Guzan for an own goal by Villa defender Alan Hutton.
From then on, it was straightforward for the Premier League champion.
And while the result will help Mourinho, whose side now has its third win from nine games, his counterpart Tim Sherwood has not led Villa to a victory since the first game of the season.
Villa has four points from nine matches and manager Sherwood is reportedly under pressure to turn things around imminently.
”We took the game to Chelsea without opening them up,” Sherwood said. ”We have to learn from our mistakes because it is costing us at the moment and when you are where we are in the league, they will continue to cost you.”