Villa give Chelsea the Blues

LONDON: Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti was frustrated after a pair of setpiece errors cost his Premier League title chasers dear as they lost 2-1 away to Aston Villa in Saturday's early kick-off match.

Chelsea took a 15th minute lead at Villa Park when Didier Drogba's long-range shot bounced awkwardly in front of Brad Friedel and beat the American goalkeeper.

But Villa, who moved up into fifth place, levelled before the break when a poor header by England midfielder Frank Lampard allowed Richard Dunne to equalise from a corner.

And early in the second-half Villa again made Chelsea pay for a lapse at a corner when James Collins rose highest to head the hosts back into the lead.

"We lost this game because there were two setplays from which Aston Villa scored two goals," Ancelotti told Sky Sports.

"We need to be more focused in these situations," the Italian added. "We don't want to lose the game because of these situations, only if the other team play better than us."

Villa manager Martin O'Neill, asked if the Midlanders could now beat any side in the Premier League, said: "We can definitely compete. It was a great effort against a top quality team.

"My own view is that anybody who finishes in front of Chelsea will win the Premiership."

O'Neill made no apologies for both his side's goals coming from corners. "Setpieces are part of the game. However, that overlooks what we can do.

"We've got quality players who can play. And when we've lost the ball, we've made every single attempt to get it back."

Friedel preserved Villa's advantage by making several one-on-one saves, denying Deco and Nicolas Anelka in the process.

This was only Chelsea's second league defeat of the season following their 3-1 loss away to Wigan last month.

Reigning champions Manchester United will go a point ahead of Chelsea if they beat Bolton at Old Trafford later Saturday but a draw would see the London club remain top of the table.