Chelsea's Fernando Torres (centre L) heads a goal past Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzlan during their English Premier League match at Stamford Bridge in London. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
Chelsea, playing with a swagger missing for much of the
season, routed Aston Villa 8-0 as Premier League leaders
Manchester United wasted the chance to move six points clear
after a 1-1 draw at Swansea City.
Chelsea striker Fernando Torres began the goal glut after
three minutes at Stamford Bridge and David Luiz and Branislav
Ivanovic made it 3-0 at the break.
Frank Lampard marked his 500th Premier League game and first
league start since October with a rasping fourth before
Ramires (two), Oscar and Eden Hazard joined the fun as
Chelsea secured a first home league win under interim manager
It took Chelsea's goal tally to 13 in two games after they
thrashed Championship (second division) side Leeds United 5-1
to reach the League Cup semi-finals in midweek.
Sunday's victory matched Chelsea's 8-0 demolition of Wigan
Athletic at home in 2010. The record Premier League winning
margin is Manchester United's 9-0 defeat of Ipswich Town in
United led at Swansea through Patrice Evra after 16 minutes
but the league's top scorer Michu netted his 13th goal of the
campaign for the hosts, moving the Spaniard one ahead of
Robin Van Persie, to level just before the half-hour.
United, who hit the woodwork twice in the second half through
Van Persie and Michael Carrick, hold a four-point advantage
over Manchester City, who beat Reading 1-0 on Saturday,
heading into a busy holiday programme.
The leaders have 43 points from 18 games, followed by City on
39. Chelsea moved back up to third place with 32.
United manager Alex Ferguson was hardly in festive mood after
his side's trip to Wales, rueing two points that got away,
claiming Van Persie "could have been killed" by Swansea
captain Ashley Williams and criticising referee Michael
"We absolutely battered them and we are very unlucky,"
Ferguson told Sky Sports. "It should have been a six-point
gap (over City) today and that is the disappointment."
Ferguson was incensed when a prone Van Persie was struck in
the head from point-blank range by a clearance from Williams
with the whistle having been blown for a foul on the
The Scot said it was a "deliberate act" and called for
Williams, booked along with Van Persie, who escaped injury,
in the melee that followed, to receive a long ban.
"Robin van Persie is lucky to be alive. It was a disgraceful
act from their player today and he should be banned by the
FA. Robin could have had a broken neck," said a seething
Swansea welcomed back Michel Vorm after the goalkeeper missed
10 games with a groin injury and the Dutchman was soon called
into action to beat away a Wayne Rooney drive before he
quickly followed up to deny Ashley Young.
However, from the resulting corner Evra met Van Persie's
delivery with a glancing header that eluded Leon Britton who
was stationed on the goal-line.
United have scored 10 goals from corners in the Premier
League this season, more than any other side.
Their lead lasted 13 minutes with United's defence, welcoming
back Serbian Nemanja Vidic for his first start since
September, unable to stop Michu pouncing from close range.
Wayne Routledge created the equaliser, his well-timed pass
playing in Jonathan de Guzman, and when David de Gea failed
to hold his well-struck low shot, Michu was on hand to follow
United had the better of the second-half although the hosts,
again displaying the attractive attacking verve that has won
Michael Laudrup's side many admirers this season, were also a
threat until tiring in the closing stages.
Van Persie's mishit volley struck the crossbar before Vorm
came to Swansea's rescue when he tipped Carrick's glancing
header on to the woodwork.
Young was then denied by a brave block as United pushed hard
for a victory that eluded them.