Football: A Frank Lampard brace returned Chelsea to third position today after they overcame a nightmare start against a well-organised but depleted Everton side.
The visitors were stunned in a little over a minute as Victor Anichebe rose highest to a Phil Jagielka cross. His header came off Petr Cech’s right-hand post and fell to midfielder Steven Pienaar to drill in the opener.
Nikica Jelavic failed to double the hosts’ lead moments later, the Croatian striking the post from a 25-yard free kick, and Chelsea made their opponents pay.
With three minutes remaining in the first half, Lampard headed in Ramires’s cross to level and send the Toffees in at the break ruing their missed chances.
In the second half Jelavic again hit the woodwork, this time hitting the bar with a header that left substitute goalkeeper Ross Turnbull grasping air. But Lampard dispatched his next chance to lift them above London rivals Tottenham in the league, firing in from close range after Everton shot-stopper Tim Howard kept out Juan Mata.
Chelsea maintained their Boxing Day gap of four points to second-placed Manchester City and interim manager Rafael Benitez is optimistic that the gap can be closed.
“We have one game in hand but we have to win this game, (then) we will see where we are,” the Spaniard said.
Benitez also heaped praise on team captain Lampard for revitalising his side after the early set back. “Lampard is of those players who is good at getting into the box and he can be dangerous,” Benitez added.
Everton boss David Moyes will be hopeful for the return of some key players as his understrength side had nothing left to give after going behind.
“We were limited with what we had today, (but) we tried to make what we had work,” said Moyes, whose side travel to Newcastle on Wednesday.