BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Alexandre Pato scored in his debut as Chelsea defeated 10-man, managerless
The on-loan Brazilian struck soon after coming on as a substitute, converting a fine penalty after he was brought down by
The result provisionally moves Chelsea into ninth on 44 points, with the defending champion even beginning to dream of a European spot after its disastrous start to the season.
Aston Villa remains adrift at the bottom with only 16 points and could be relegated next weekend.
Villa, which parted company with manager Remi Garde on Tuesday following a disastrous four-month spell in charge, gave no sign of a late-season revival under caretaker manager Eric Black. A highly unimpressive display, in the midst of angry fan protests, was capped by Hutton's sending off in the 85th minute.
"I can understand the disconnect with the supporters," Black said. "We have to give the supporters something, not the other way round. It's been a hard season for them."
Loftus-Cheek scored Chelsea's first goal in the 26th, slotting home at the front post from Cesar Azpilicueta's cross.
Coming on for the injured Loic Remy in the 23rd, Pato made an instant impact in what was an impressive debut. His movement caused the Villa defense endless problems, with his first-half stoppage time goal coming from a penalty after he was fouled by Cissokho. Pato continued to impress throughout the second half, and played an integral part in both of Pedro's goals.
"I'm so happy today," said Pato. "During the game it was very easy to play alongside the guys. I'm tired but happy."
There was also a debut for defender Matt Miazga. The 20-year-old American defender, bought from MLS side New York Red Bulls in January for $5 million, made a solid start to his Chelsea career, dealing well with the few chances Villa created.