Lukaku ends goal drought in Chelsea’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa




Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku, centre, scores his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park in Birmingham, England, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Jorginho scored two penalties and Romelu Lukaku netted his first Premier League goal since September to lead Chelsea’s comeback for a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday.

Lukaku’s first season back in England has been hampered by an ankle injury and the striker hadn’t scored in the league since last facing Villa 106 days earlier.

After drawing its last two games, Chelsea avoided losing further ground on Manchester City, staying six points behind first place.

There was a huge slice of fortune for Villa’s goal in the 28th minute when Chelsea defender Reece James rose to clear Matt Targett’s left-wing cross but only succeeded in diverting it over his own goalkeeper — Edouard Mendy.

Villa gifted Chelsea a way back six minutes later when Matty Cash recklessly dived in on Callum Hudson-Odoi in the penalty area and Jorginho stepped up to convert from the spot.

Chelsea replaced Trevoh Chalobah with Lukaku at halftime and his presence rattled Villa immediately.

Lukaku’s Premier League drought ended in the 56th. Hudson-Odoi’s cross found Lukaku drifting in ahead of a dozing Tyrone Mings and he glanced in from seven yards (meters).

It was Lukaku who made the telling impact once again in stoppage time. Ezri Konsa brought him down and Jorginho netted again from the spot.

Villa, which stayed in 10th place, was without manager Steven Gerrard who is isolating with coronavirus.

___