London: Chelsea’s title hopes suffered a blow when the Premier League leaders finished with nine men in a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday after Manchester City won 2-0 at Hull City to cut the gap at the top to six points.
Chelsea also had coach Jose Mourinho sent to the stands in the dying minutes after the game came to life at Villa Park.
Chelsea stay top with 66 points from 30 games above second-placed City who have 60 points but with three games in hand. Although Chelsea and City both had players sent off in their matches the London side had no response to Fabian Delph’s clever 82nd minute backheel which secured Villa’s victory.
Villa’s goal came 15 minutes after Chelsea’s Willian was sent off for a soft second yellow card while fellow midfielder Ramires was dismissed in stoppage time for a stamp on Karim El Ahmadi.
Silva scored with a superbly executed curling shot in the 12th minute after a delicate pass from Yaya Toure and although Hull battled gamely, City made light of their one-man disadvantage and stretched their unbeaten away run in the league to eight games. Dzeko wrapped up the points from point blank range after a pass from Silva.
At the other end Fulham stayed bottom but won for the first time since New Year’s Day. They beat Newcastle United, without suspended manager Alan Pardew in the stadium, 1-0.