Lampard brace sinks Toffees
Frank Lampard's days at Chelsea are reportedly numbered, but if that is the case he seems determined to go out in a blaze of glory after netting a brace in the 2-1 win at Everton..
Restored to the starting line-up, the England midfielder scored in each half to inspire his side to recover from Steven Pienaar's second-minute strike and secure a fourth successive league victory.
The win ensured Chelsea head into 2013 in third place in the table, just four points behind second-placed Manchester City with a match in hand.
It had looked like being a long afternoon on Merseyside for the visitors after Everton got off to a dream start with just 64 seconds gone. Phil Jagielka, playing at right-back in recent weeks because of injuries, swung over a cross which Victor Anichebe headed against the far post and Pienaar was quickest to react to the loose ball to drill it past Petr Cech.
The same post denied Nikica Jelavic a second from a free-kick, but this time the rebound was not so kind to the Toffees and Chelsea were able to clear.
However, the home side, emboldened by a home record which has not seen them been beaten in the league since late March, continued to press forward with Leon Osman bringing a good low save out of Cech.
Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole was inches away from sliding in the equaliser from Cesar Azpilicueta's cross but the goal they threatened finally arrived three minutes before the interval. Lampard, given far too much space, planted a header from Ramires' cross inside the near post to wrongfoot Tim Howard.
Osman brought a good save out of Ross Turnbull, who replaced Cech at half-time, early in the second half after side-stepping a couple of half-hearted tackles, before Jelavic's flicked header from Leighton Baines' cross beat the goalkeeper but not the crossbar - the 17th time this season Everton have hit the woodwork.
With 18 minutes remaining Everton were carved open by another driving Ramires run and Howard was desperately unlucky that when he brilliantly denied Juan Mata, the ball fell to Lampard six yards out who could not miss an open goal.
Jelavic had a chance to snatch a draw deep into in added time but could not get enough power on his close-range effort and Turnbull gathered gratefully.