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Premiership: Everton 2-3 Chelsea

Match reports

Daily Telegraph, Clive Tyldesley: “Functional? Effective? Boring even? Not a bit of it. Chelsea’s true champion pedigree was underlined by moments of rare brilliance and beauty in a stunning success at Goodison Park. Trailing 2-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining, they turned a damaging defeat into what could prove to be a pivotal success with two memorable late goals from Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. Chelsea may have a bit of an image problem, but no team in Europe could have won a vital game more dramatically.”

The Times, Matt Hughes: “With their passing particularly poor, Mourinho changed his team around at half-time, summoning Salomon Kalou as an extra striker from the bench. Ballack emerged from the lethargy that has surrounded him this season to force the equaliser, his shot hitting a post and Tim Howard’s back before crossing the line, and they continued to dominate, Kalou hitting a post and Drogba firing over the bar.”

The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “It was Didier Drogba who settled this glorious contest. The hosts were still coming to terms with the reality that their resilience had not been enough to retain an advantage, Frank Lampard having plucked an equaliser across Tim Howard and into the corner six minutes earlier, when the Ivorian gathered Andriy Shevchenko’s flick. The ball cannoned up from his chest, Drogba spinning instinctively to hammer a wondrous volley which soared for 35 yards then dipped over the goalkeeper at the last.”

The Independent, Andy Hunter: “But for three sublime strikes from distance on successive Sundays – Michael Essien’s against Arsenal starting an internal competition at Stamford Bridge – and Drogba’s late winner against Newcastle, Chelsea would have dropped six points in three outings. As things stand, their position as United’s closest challengers has improved dramatically. They are displaying the tenacity of champions, laced with occasional brilliance, not the brilliance of champions laced with occasional tenacity.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Neil Barnett: “Chelsea twice came from behind without injured John Terry to win with two late fantastic goals from Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. Terry has been struggling with his back since the Newcastle game and pulled up in training yesterday. That forced Ricardo Carvalho to play today after missing the second-half against Newcastle with his ankle injury.”

A Living Room in the South East, 87 minutes gone, Jonathan Dyer: “Another bloody two points dropped, Mancs about to play one of the worst teams in the country, the title is going out of the window and we’re punting hopeful long balls upfield and hitting speculative thirty-five yardOHYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES! YOU F*CKING BEAUTY!!!!”

The good

  1. The day. With 15 minutes to go it looked like the gap at the top would be eight points. Now it is only two. Game on!
  2. The game itself. A truly superb game of football, thanks in no small part to ‘boring’ Chelsea.
  3. The players. After a dreadful first half, at 2-1 down the reaction was superb; similar to when we went a goal and a man down against West Ham at the Bridge last season. What bearing this will have on the title race is for those with a crystal ball to speculate, but both of the top two were under pressure today; one choked, the other reacted in the way that you expect champions to when the chips are down. Tremendous stuff.
  4. United going down at Upton Park. Just for a (very) brief moment, ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ never sounded so good. Nice one Curbs!

The bad

  1. The first half. Disjointed is something of an understatement.
  2. John Terry’s back injury. We can only hope he makes as quick a comeback as he did earlier in the year after the same complaint. Boulahrouz did his best but became more of a liability as the half wore on, with the penalty that gave Everton the lead seeming almost inevitable.
  3. Hilario. Fair play to him for coming in and playing as well as he has under the circumstances, but his moments of indecision make the back four far more uncomfortable than is good for us. Hurry back Petr, we need you.

Man of the Match

Didier Drogba. One of the finest goals you’ll see all season and one which may turn out to be vital in the big scheme of things. Frank Lampard’s wasn’t bad either; a record breaker too – he is now our most prolific midfield goal scorer of all time with 77, overtaking Dennis Wise’s tally in far fewer games.

Final thoughts

A fantastic result and if you saw one goal of the calibre of those that Chelsea scored today in a season you’d be lucky; three in ninety minutes was an early Christmas present to be remembered long after the decorations come down. But really, do we need to be a goal behind and play like a pub team for forty-five minutes before we really get going?

Apologies for the short post this evening; lack of time and available match reports (more will be added as they become available) at this point on a Sunday prevented anything more substantial. But hey, it was one of those games that is probably best described by those who watched it, so over to you – post your views in the comments section. Was this the day when the race for the title race turned in our favour?

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