Lamps to the rescue
As part of our Premier League snap-shots feature, we take a look back on Chelsea's come-from-behind win at Goodison Park that ended Everton's unbeaten home record this season
Last Updated: 30/12/12 9:14pm
Frank Lampard was the two-goal hero as Chelsea beat Everton
Chelsea overcame a stern test from Everton as they came from behind to win 2-1 at Goodison Park on Sunday. The Toffees had started the match at a frenzied pace and were ahead after just 63 seconds courtesy of Steven Pienaar. There were chances to double the lead before Frank Lampard found an equaliser just before the interval. And while Nikica Jelavic hit the woodwork for a second time midway through the second period, the points belonged to Chelsea in the end when Lampard popped up with his second of the game to secure a hard-fought win.
David Moyes may have a slightly bigger squad these days but he was still forced to select a number of youngsters on the bench as he was without a number of key figures for the visit of Chelsea. Most notably, Marouane Fellaini was suspended but with skipper Phil Neville, Tony Hibbert and Seamus Coleman all unavailable, Moyes was also forced to play Phil Jagielka at right-back.
Rafa Benitez had a more straightforward team selection but with the games now coming in quick succession for Chelsea following their exertions in Japan there were still decisions to make. Lampard, Eden Hazard and Ramires came in for Mikel, Oscar and Victor Moses from the team who beat Norwich on Boxing Day.
Victor Anichebe was the man tasked with providing support for Jelavic in what was effectively an attacking 4-4-2 formation with Steven Naismith and Pienaar providing good outlets from wide positions. As ever, the Everton left flank was an important source of opportunities for the home side - although the opening goal came from a marauding run down the right by Jagielka.
Perhaps the most significant change Benitez has overseen at Chelsea so far has been the deployment of David Luiz in midfield. Branislav Ivanovic is now able to operate in his natural role at centre-back with the Brazilian allowed the freedom to play just in front of the defence in a holding role in the centre. The early signs are encouraging for the European champions.
Although Pienaar grabbed Everton's goal, the fact the Toffees lost this game means their key figure in the contest was probably Jelavic. The Croatian striker went close to putting his team two-goals up in the first half and then nearly found a winner after the break - both times he was denied by the woodwork. Even in injury time he should have done better when well placed but it was not to be and he will surely be wondering how he did not get on the scoresheet.
Lampard still uncertain of future
Lampard was arguably involved far less than Jelavic in front of goal but the vital difference was that the Chelsea skipper popped up with two goals. And is not that so often the way with Lampard? As Jamie Redknapp told the Sky Sports viewers after the game, the ball seems to find the 34-year-old midfielder like a magnet in the box. Of course, there is no magnet - just instinct and knowledge. How can Chelsea even consider allowing their talisman to leave?
Moyes did all he could to try and turn the game in Everton's favour late on but his three young substitutes were unable to find the breakthrough. Ross Barkley, Bryan Oviedo and Apostolos Vellios were all involved but the second goal just would not come.
That was partly due to Ross Turnbull who replaced Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal at half-time. The home side would have fancied their chances of finding a way past the reserve goalkeeper but he ensured there would be no cheap goals for Everton and did well.
Howard Webb had some marginal decisions to make, not least in keeping an eye on the battle between Luiz and Pienaar that saw both men booked. But there was nothing too controversial for the referee to deal with and neither manager was left complaining about the officiating at the end.
Everton may be left wondering how they lost this game - they certainly came mighty close to finding a second goal - and there were plenty of positives to take from their first home defeat of the season. While a top-four finish looks a tough task for Moyes' men there is no cause to give up on that goal on the evidence of this game.
The home side just came up against a fine team with a steely resolve. It would be an understatement to say that Benitez's arrival at Stamford Bridge was not warmly greeted but the players certainly appear to be playing for him. The changes he has made have worked and the results are improving. Chelsea's slim title hopes are still alive going into 2013.
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