Chelsea earned a hard-fought, come-from-behind victory over Premier League rival Everton on Sunday at Goodison Park, winning 2-1 on the strength of Frank Lampard.
Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar put the Toffees ahead 1-0 just moments into the match with a second-minute rebound finish. Everton would lead for the next 40 minutes before Chelsea's Frank Lampard knocked in a tremendous header from just outside the six-yard box to level the match at one goal apiece.
The biggest takeaway from the first half for many was Everton's energy. @MVFCLR22 praised the home squad for its tenacious approach during the first 45 minutes:
Everton harass each and every Chelsea pass. Love the desperation to win the ball back. #EVECHE— LR (@MVFCLR22) December 30, 2012
Early in the second half, Everton defender Leighton Baines would have his jersey ripped open after a rough tackle from Chelsea's Gary Cahill. Seamus Kennan tweeted this picture, showing the damage:
Lampard would strike again nearly a half hour into the second half, crushing the ball into the net after Tim Howard saved a shot from Juan Mata to put the Blues up 2-1 at Goodison Park. The goal was very unlucky for Everton, though, as prior to the score they had struck the post a few times on the other end.
Toni Vuolle tweeted cleverly about Everton's bad luck right after the second Lampard goal:
Despite a few anxious moments on both ends, Chelsea would protect its lead over the final 20-plus minutes of the match and go on to win, 2-1.
The result brings Everton's 13-match unbeaten home streak to an end and marks Chelsea's fourth straight victory. With the three points earned, the Blues leap Tottenham in the Premier League table, taking third place once again.
It wasn't always pretty for Chelsea on Sunday, but in the end they earned three huge points in a hostile environment. Theo best summed up the Blues' year-ending accomplishment on Twitter:
Juan Mata, Chelsea: B
Spanish midfielder Juan Mata played another excellent, attacking match for Chelsea, creating chances and helping lead the Blues' counterattack on the road. Although he didn't find the back of the net during his 85 minutes of action, he did put a shot on goal that led to Lampard's second score of the game, which proved to be the match-winner.
Steven Pienaar, Everton: B
Pienaar's early goal drastically changed the match for Everton, as they were able to play with the lead for most of the first half. It also provided the home team with a bit of cushion to somewhat withstand Chelsea's barrage the rest of the way.
In the end, Pienaar made a slight difference, but it wasn't enough for Everton.
Frank Lampard, Chelsea: A
You can't play much better football than Frank Lampard did on Sunday. The veteran midfielder scored not once, but twice for Rafael Benitez's club to help it earn a vital three points away from home.
Lampard leveled the match at 1-1 in the 42nd minute and put Chelsea ahead with the match-winning goal 30 minutes later. Lampard was the hands-down Man of the Match on Sunday. His heroics stole the show at Goodison Park.
Victor Anichebe, Everton: B
Everton forward Victor Anichebe made the play that ultimately led to Pienaar's opening goal, but went largely unnoticed for David Moyes' side on Sunday, failing to produce anything more than a few harmless shots.
Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea: C
The 23-year-old defender showed plenty of weaknesses on Sunday vs. Everton. Azpilicueta's strength is getting forward from the back and helping out on the attack, but he'll need to defend much more consistently if he is to elevate his game to the next level.
He wasn't terrible on Sunday, but he was without question the least effective of Chelsea's defenders.
Tim Howard, Everton: B
The American goalkeeper would have loved another shot at stopping Lampard's two goals, but his day was highlighted by some solid work in between the posts, including a sensational save on Fernando Torres in the 66th minute.
Howard certainly deserves some criticism for conceding twice, but Everton's poor defense played a major role as well.
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