Everton 1 Chelsea 2: Lampard delivers again as Blues recover from early blow to move back into third place
21:50 GMT, 30 December 2012
Frank Lampard has made a habit of being in the right place at the right time over his years at Chelsea.
How peculiar, then, that from the end of this season, he will probably be somewhere else entirely.
Of all the bizarre events that have characterised Chelsea’s recent history, the apparent decision to jettison one of their most important players next summer is among the more perplexing.
At the double: Lampard celebrates his second and decisive goal
Everton: Howard, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Naismith (Vellios 76), Osman, Hitzlsperger (Barkley 78), Pienaar (Oviedo 80), Anichebe, Jelavic.
Subs not used: Mucha, Gueye, Duffy, Browning.
Goal: Pienaar 1.
Bookings: Distin, Pienaar.
Chelsea: Cech (Turnbull 46), Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Ramires, Luiz, Lampard, Mata (Oscar 85), Torres, Hazard (Moses 74).
Subs not used: Ferreira, Marin, Piazon, Ake.
Goals: Lampard 42, 72.
Bookings: Cole, Luiz, Cahill.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)
Lampard has made almost 400 Barclays
Premier League appearances for Chelsea as the club have established
themselves as one of the best in Europe. He has been a cornerstone of
all that has been achieved in the Roman Abramovich years. However, those
who suggest that Lampard should be rewarded for his loyalty with a new
contract miss the point.
He should be invited to stay at
Stamford Bridge not out of sentiment but simply because he still has
something to offer a squad that needs continuity more than most others.
Lampard’s two goals at Goodison Park
yesterday were certainly timely. They enabled his team to recover from a
second-minute Everton goal to continue their impressive recent
progress and they also provided a reminder of his enduring worth as a
footballer. At 34, Lampard may not be as mobile or as dynamic as he once
was. Time has inevitably diminished him.
Nevertheless, the England midfielder’s ability to pass and read and anticipate play remains undimmed.
One senses that Rafael Benitez
recognises this and it is a shame that it is someone else other than the
club’s interim manager who would appear to be making the decisions
about players at Chelsea.
Certainly, yesterday, Benitez will have been grateful.
Giving Everton the Blues: Lampard scores Chelsea's winner
Heads up: Frank Lampard scores Chelsea's first half equaliser
Chelsea fell behind after only 63
seconds and then had to withstand something of a blitz from David
Moyes’s progressive Everton team.
That they did so says much for the
manner in which Benitez has organised his team and the confidence that
has come from recent victories.
Putting eight goals past a poor Aston
Villa team at home is one thing but moving forward to win at Norwich and
then here on Merseyside is arguably more impressive.
Get in there, Frank: Lampard is congratulated after scoring
Are you listening, Roman A Chelsea fan holding up a special banner at Goodison Park
The first half-hour belonged to
Everton. Unfortunately for the home side, it brought them only one goal.
Ultimately, that proved critical.
A good goal it was, though, as Everton
took advantage of Eden Hazard’s misplaced early pass to sweep down the
right through Phil Jagielka.
The emergency right back’s cross was a
good one, and it enabled Victor Anichebe to climb above Cesar
Azpilicueta — with the help of a shove in the back — and head powerfully
against the post. If Chelsea thought the danger had passed, they were
wrong. Steven Pienaar was lurking 12 yards from goal and the technique
he showed in drilling the ball low past Petr Cech was exemplary.
What a start: Steven Pienaar fires Everton in front after just a minute
Pure delight: Pienaar celebrates his goal
A goal to the good so quickly, Everton
were effervescent and inventive. For a while, Chelsea had no answer.
The likes of Lampard, David Luiz and Juan Mata were slow into the game,
and they were almost invisible as the hosts swept forward.
Moyes’s players created chances but
couldn’t take them. Nikica Jelavic struck a free-kick against the post
with Cech stranded before Anichebe headed over after a throw-in was
flicked on from the right.
Perhaps the turning point arrived in
the 24th minute, though, as another Jagielka cross reached the
impressive Leon Osman and Cech somehow managed to smuggle a fierce low
drive past his left-hand post.
Had Chelsea fallen two goals behind at
this point, there might have been no way back. They really had offered
very little at this point.
As it was, though, Cech touched a
Jelavic cross-shot wide after a superb Pienaar pass, and Chelsea sprung
forward to equalise just before half-time.
The goal hadn’t exactly been coming, but Chelsea had been improving quietly as time went on.
Making his point: Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez (right) and Everton boss David Moyes on the sidelines
Battle: Sylvain Distin clashes with Fernando Torres
In the 34th minute, Ashley Cole had
been an inch away from diverting a low Azpilicueta cross into the net at
the far post, and they equalised when Fernando Torres ran the ball down
the right, fed Ramires and watched the Brazilian drop a right-foot
cross on the forehead of Lampard eight yards from goal. He simply wasn’t
going to miss.
No doubt relieved to be level, Chelsea
began the second half the stronger, even though they had lost
goalkeeper Cech at half-time to an ankle injury.
With Luiz, Mata and Ramires now
looking more like themselves, a Luiz chipped pass deserved better than a
poor Torres touch while Chelsea’s centre forward found a much better
contact in bringing a superb save from Tim Howard in the 67th minute.
At the other end, Everton’s threat was
by now more sporadic, but they remained very much in the game and
superb work from Leighton Baines down the left enabled Jelavic to head
against the bar as the game hung in the balance with 20 minutes left.
Moyes was later to rue his team’s failure to follow up rebounds.
It was pertinent, then, that Chelsea
won the game just minutes later when a superb move involving Ramires,
Torres, Mata and Hazard ended with Lampard bundling the ball in from
close range after Howard had saved.
Still there was time for Jelavic to
dawdle over a late chance after another Baines cross, and perhaps
Everton would have deserved a point.
Chelsea, though, are threatening to become as ruthless on the field as they are off it.
Frank Lampard knows this well.
Fan-tastic: Everton supporters watch the action unfold on the final Sunday of 2012