IVANOVIC: RAPID RESPONSE
No one could accuse Branislav Ivanovic of scoring unimportant goals. The defender who first made the Chelsea scoresheet when turning around a Champions League game with two goals at Anfield in 2009, already had the momentous winner at home to Napoli last month to his name this season.
Then on Saturday he contributed another double strike, including a crucial goal that put his side back in front after a two-goal lead had been wiped out by Aston Villa on their home turf. It was the short period of time needed, just five minutes, for Chelsea to score again after Villa had made equalised that was vital according to Ivanovic.
'It was a very difficult game and it always is difficult at Villa Park,' he said.
'We started the game well, we scored the goals and were 2-0 up but it was always not over. It is always a shock when you are 2-0 up and you go to 2-2 but I think our good reaction and quick goal after that is what decided the game.'
After Daniel Sturridge had netted in the first half, Ivanovic scored Chelsea's second when Villa failed to clear a corner and he shot high into the net. It was set-piece strength again that made it 3-2 in the 82nd minute, Ivanovic from close-range able to divert a flicked-on corner down and in.
'It looked like I defended the ball,' he smiled. 'I expected the corner to be deflected by Fernando [Torres] but I didn't know where, but it finished in the right place and went in off my face.
'It is always nice to score because it gives confidence but the three points were more important than the goals.'
Torres made the win absolutely safe with a fine finish in stoppage time to make it 4-2 and the Spaniard made a contribution to all four Chelsea goals, joined in celebration by his team mates when he found the net.
'Fernando had a great performance, he played for the team and he is getting better and better,' praised Ivanovic.
'The goal was a just reward for him and I told him thank you for the two assists. Everyone here knows what he is like as a player. He is not playing just for himself and it is a pleasure to play with him. He will be for the future one of the most important players in our club.'
The weekend game cannot be put to one side without considering how a healthy lead was lost before it was regained. Similar lapses could be catastrophic to the outcome of the season.
'We had a lot of important games in the last couple of weeks which is hard and we lost concentration for a short period of time, but the great thing is we reacted well,' says Ivanovic.
'We have to be focused every game. It is an exciting time but it is very difficult for us now with a lot of games, but we are ready and we try to do our best for the club.'