Birmingham: Leaders Chelsea surrendered the initiative in the Premier League title race as they had two players and boss Jose Mourinho sent off in a shock 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday. Fabian Delph's flicked strike in the 82nd minute, either side of dismissals for Willian and Ramires, stopped the Blues maintaining their advantage over second-placed Manchester City, who are now just six points behind Chelsea with three games in hand.
Tempers flared in stoppage-time when Mourinho took his protestations over Ramires' red card onto the pitch before receiving his marching orders from referee Chris Foy. It was a bitter end to a frustrating match for Mourinho, who watched his lacklustre side labour in vain to break down Villa before succumbing to Delph's winner.
As well as their games in hand, Manuel Pellegrini's City have a superior goal difference to Chelsea and Mourinho could be forgiven for feeling he is cursed at Villa Park -- the only top-flight ground in England at which he has not won. The Portuguese could have few complaints with the result though after an insipid performance from his team in which they created only a spate of openings, a disallowed goal for a handball by Nemanja Matic the best of them.