LONDON (AP) — Branislav Ivanovic's second-half header gave Chelsea a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa moments after he avoided a red card in a fiery second match of the Premier League season on Wednesday.
The right back was only booked for elbowing Christian Benteke in the head, and then sent Frank Lampard's free kick into the net in the 73rd minute.
"This is English football, for some reason the world loves it more than any other league — one thing is (because of) a real aggression I would call it," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. "Another thing is duels that are handled in a certain way and I think the referee did very well.
"From minute 1 to minute 95 there was a real fight — a football fight between Benteke and Ivanovic."
Chelsea fortuitously went in front after seven minutes when the ball inadvertently bounced off Antonio Luna into his own net.
Although Chelsea faded, allowing Benteke to level in first-half stoppage time, Villa couldn't find the net again and replicate its surprise victory at Arsenal on Saturday.
Instead, Ivanovic ensured Mourinho's second spell at Stamford Bridge has started with back-to-back league wins.
"A draw wouldn't have been an unfair result — they fought a lot," Mourinho said. "They created great difficulties."
The victory gives Chelsea an early edge over its title rivals, with this game moved forward by almost two weeks due to the Europa League winners' Supercup match against Champions League winner Bayern Munich.
After scoring eight past Villa in this fixture last season, Chelsea did not find it as easy going this season — even after going in front so early.
A fine pass from Oscar set up Eden Hazard on the left of the penalty area and the Belgium midfielder's resulting shot was pushed by goalkeeper Brad Guzan onto Luna and the ball bounced off him into his net.