Lampard brace a timely reminder
Everton 1 Chelsea 2: Frank Lampard will be free to sign terms with other clubs in the new year, so it was apt that his second and winning goal was met by a chorus of “sign him up” by Chelsea’s fans at Goodison Park.
Lampard’s knack of appearing in the right place at the right time has brought Chelsea many victories and helped to win league titles, not to mention European glory in the past 11 years. Twice he showed that natural instinct during a game in which his side were second best to Everton, yet the midfielder has yet to be offered a contract extension.
There is, however, plenty of speculation regarding a Chelsea deal for Demba Ba. Rafael Benitez would not be drawn on any move for the Newcastle United striker but expects Lampard to remain at Stamford Bridge until at least the end of the season.
“Frank is under contract, he’s fully committed and he’s a great player,” said the interim manager. “My job is to keep him fit and, if he scores in every game, I will be really pleased.
“Lampard is a great player, he is a good professional, he is doing well for us. I will try to bring the best from him until the end of the season and you never know.”
Asked what the new year might bring, Lampard said: “I just hope for me personally playing in a winning team. I will keep trying to give my best as I’ve always done and will continue to do. I know there’s a lot of speculation but for me the enjoyable bit is the 90 minutes.”
Fourth successive victory
Everton’s profligacy has haunted them this season and, despite taking an early lead through Steven Pienaar, Lampard’s header three minutes before half-time and a close-range finish after 72 minutes secured a fourth successive victory for Benitez on his return to Merseyside.
Everton dominated the opening 30 minutes and should have killed off the game while Chelsea were in disarray. Pienaar punished them for a slow start by firing the ball past Petr Cech in the second minute. Eden Hazard, woefully off the pace in the first half, squandered possession in midfield and Phil Jagielka, playing at full-back, galloped down the right wing before delivering a deep cross.
Victor Anichebe’s header rebounded off the far post but the ball fell to Pienaar who shot home from around the penalty spot.
Quite how they failed to go further ahead was a mystery solved mostly by Cech, who made a number of impressive saves, and bad luck. On three occasions Everton hit the woodwork. “We’re not disappointed with how we played, we played really well, we’ve run the European champions really close but we just didn’t have enough in the end,” said Moyes, who apologised for berating the referee, Howard Webb, after the final whistle.
“I was wrong to do so and I apologised to him but I thought there was a free-kick on Leon Osman in the 92nd minute on the edge of the box.”
Chelsea began to find their rhythm and Fernando Torres slid the ball to Ramires and the Brazilian lifted a pinpoint cross into the penalty area where the unmarked Lampard headed into the bottom corner.
Ross Turnbull was introduced for Cech at half-time because of a thigh injury and the action moved from end to end. With 20 minutes remaining Jelavic’s header cannoned off the crossbar following an excellent pass from Leighton Baines and two minutes later Chelsea were in front. Torres and Ramires combined before Mata’s shot was stopped by Howard, only for Lampard to turn home the rebound. Benitez and Moyes warmly shook hands before the game, despite the Spaniard labelling Everton a “small club” when manager of Liverpool in 2007.
He faces a fiery encounter on Wednesday when Chelsea play their neighbours Queens Park Rangers. If he can manage a fifth win from five, his dissenters may start to diminish and Manchester United will be looking over their shoulders.