LONDON(Reuters) - Goals from striker Ollie Watkins and captain John McGinn earned Aston Villa all three points in a pulsating 2-0 Premier League mid-table win at Chelsea on Saturday.
The result sent Villa into ninth in the table, leapfrogging Chelsea, who dropped into the bottom half.
Watkins took his chance in the 18th minute after a mistake from retreating defender Marc Cucurella, who headed a long ball into his path and he calmly lobbed his shot over advancing Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. Chelsea, who enjoyed some 69% possession and more than two dozen shots but as so often this season proved toothless in front of goal, came out guns blazing in the second half only to concede a corner from a Villa break.
The ball came out to McGinn and he sent a searing shot from 20 metres past the diving Kepa and into the bottom corner in the 56th minute.
"Everyone was flinging their bodies on the line," McGinn told Sky sports. "This league's difficult so to go on a run like we've done, and to stay so humble, to a man we were first class today."
Villa's World Cup winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez made flying saves from Mykhailo Mudryk and Joao Felix, but otherwise Chelsea produced tame efforts, dragged the ball wide or ran into well organised Villa defensive traffic.
Villa, tight at the back and sparkling on the break, were solid, composed and inventive.
Boos and jeers echoed round Stamford Bridge as the home team and a dejected looking Graham Potter left the field, the pressure well and truly back on his shoulders.
His side host Liverpool on Tuesday and play Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League later this month.
"We have to accept it (the result) and do better," he told Sky. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We have a fantastic game on Tuesday to put it right," Potter said.
"There were a lot of good things in the game, a lot of attacking entries and shots. If you look at the stats of the game it was a positive performance, but in terms of the scoreline it's not. We're all really disappointed."
By contrast Villa, who have earned 29 points from 15 games since Unai Emery took over as coach last October, are two points adrift of the European places.
(Reporting by Clare Lovell, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis)