Chelsea kept pace with Manchester City in the Premier League title race and moved level on points with Liverpool after beating Aston Villa 3-1 on Boxing Day.
Villa boss Steven Gerrard was absent after testing positive for Covid-19 on Christmas Day and watched on from home as his side fell to defeat.
A tight opening 23 minutes yielded little in the way of goal-mouth action, before Mason Mount’s cross-cum-shot nearly caught Emiliano Martinez out, rattling the top of the crossbar.
Villa took the lead soon after thanks to a similar moment of fortune. Matt Targett’s cross was met by Reece James, whose looping header bamboozled Edouard Mendy and floated into the back of the net.
Chelsea were given a golden opportunity to grab an equaliser minutes later when Matty Cash foolishly brought down Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Jorginho levelled proceedings from the spot.
A lapse in concentration from the Blues’ Italian skipper nearly gifted Villa another goal however, with Morgan Sanson intercepting a loose pass and releasing Ollie Watkins, but Mendy was quick off his line to deny him.
Thomas Tuchel’s side nearly took the lead shortly after half time when Mount’s cross was headed against substitute Romelu Lukaku by Cash, but the loose ball was gratefully grabbed by Emiliano Martinez.
Lukaku nodded Chelsea ahead just before the hour mark, getting in front of Tyrone Mings to meet Hudson-Odoi’s cross and giving his side the lead.
Chelsea should have added a third through Mount after he rounded Martinez, but the England midfielder somehow dragged his shot wide of an empty net.
While Villa could barely muster a chance, the visitors created a golden one on the break with Lukaku and Mateo Kovacic linking up and freeing Hudson-Odoi, and he was denied by a smart save.
Tuchel’s men made one last chance on the break with Lukaku bulldozing his way past Matt Targett and drawing a foul from Ezri Konsa. Jorginho scored again from the penalty spot to secure the three points.
Emiliano Martinez (GK) – 5/10 – Not much to do apart from pick the ball out of hit net.
Matty Cash (RB) – 3/10 – Can’t emphasise how stupid his foul on Hudson-Odoi was. What was he thinking?
Ezri Konsa (CB) – 3/10 – Was made to look foolish by Lukaku late on after doing his best to avoid such a scenario in the second half.
Tyrone Mings (CB) – 3/10 – Easily bullied by Lukaku for Chelsea’s second of the game and Villa never recovered.
Matt Targett (LB) – 5/10 – A busy man at both ends but couldn’t make a difference going forward and will also have nightmares about Chelsea’s big Belgian.
Douglas Luiz (DM) – 6/10 – Like Targett saw a lot of the ball and didn’t look out of place against two elite midfielders.
Morgan Sanson (CM) – 5/10 – Apart from that Jorginho interception in the first half, was quiet and did little to stake his claim for more starts.
Jacob Ramsey (CM) – 5/10 – Quick feet and full of energy but produced little to tangibly help his side.
Emiliano Buendia (RW) – 5/10 – Made a couple of decent openings but nothing major.
Danny Ings (CF) – 4/10 – Always making smart runs, but his lack of pace prevented him from really getting a sight of goal.
Ollie Watkins (LW) – 4/10 – Tucked in to play alongside Ings but similarly was frustrated, with most of his shots being blocked.
Bertrand Traore (RW, 73′ for Ings) – 6/10
Carney Chukwuemeka (AM, 73′ for Buendia) – 6/10
Anwar El Ghazi (LW, 77′ for Sanson) – 5/10
Edouard Mendy (GK) – 6/10 – Not much he could do about the own goal but was otherwise alert to danger.
Trevoh Chalobah (CB) – 6/10 – Brought off at half time but was hardly an indictment of his performance.
Thiago Silva (CB) – 7/10 – Led from the back, stepping into midfield when necessary. Substituted with injury.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 7/10 – His range of passing helped Chelsea out of some tricky situations whenever Villa pressed.
Reece James (RWB) – 5/10 – Harsh to totally put the blame for the own goal at his door but come on, man, not there.
N’Golo Kante (CM) – 8/10 – Quietly excellent, as the football world has come to expect.
Jorginho (CM) – 8/10 – Scored twice from the spot and was otherwise tidy.
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – 5/10 – Surprisingly, his defensive frailties weren’t exploited by Villa.
Mason Mount (RW) – 7/10 – Like Kante was effective with little fanfare (open goal miss aside).
Christian Pulisic (CF) – 5/10 – Not a natural number nine and it showed. Had more success out wide and in the hole after Lukaku was brought on.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (LW) – 8/10 – Won the penalty and grabbed an assist, another job well done for a player finally finding his feet at the highest level.
Romelu Lukaku (CF, 46′ for Chalobah) – 9/10 – Changed the game and his return will prove pivotal in the title race.
Andreas Christensen (CB, 52′ for Silva) – 6/10 – Didn’t look out of place.
Mateo Kovacic (CM, 63′ for Kante) – 6/10