London: Frank Lampard gave the Chelsea hierarchy a timely reminder of his value as the soon-to-be out of contract midfielder scored both of the visitors` goals against Everton in a 2-1 win that moved the club back into third in the Premier League.
The Toffees started proceedings brightly as Steven Pienaar rifled home an opener in the second minute. But Lampard arrived on cue to bring Chelsea level after a first half in which they were largely dominated before pouncing on a loose ball after the break to seal the points.
The game started with a traditionally high tempo at Goodison Park and it took Everton little more than a minute to open the scoring. Pienaar finished a move he started as Victor Anichebe`s header from Phil Jagielka`s cross rebounded back off the post and kindly for the South African to power home from 12 yards.
Five minutes later, Nikica Jelavic rattled the same post as his curled free kick cannoned back off the woodwork. It was a vibrant start from the hosts but they did not let up, largely thanks to the prominence of Pienaar.
His backheel to Jagielka, again down the right flank, led to a Leon Osman strike from the edge of the box that was well saved by Petr Cech. It was his first meaningful contribution of the half.
The threat of a second home goal sparked Rafa Benitez`s side into life and Ramires` driving run at the heart of the defence created an opening for the excellent Juan Mata, though his shot was well blocked by Tim Howard.
Mata`s influence soon grew and after some intelligent link-up play in the box he released Cesar Azpilicueta, but his drilled cross evaded every defender and attacker inside the six-yard box.
The battle of the playmakers continued to swing one way and another as Pienaar responded to Mata`s creativity by sending Jelavic into space on the left-hand side of the box. His powerful low shot across goal was tipped behind by Cech.
Then came the equaliser as the subdued Fernando Torres laid the ball into Ramires inside the box. His left-footed cross found Lampard arriving at the back post and the 34-year-old made no mistake, nodding a header across Howard and into the corner of the net.
The second period saw a more threatening Chelsea attack with purpose. David Luiz, playing in midfield, saw his expertly lifted pass to Torres squandered, before the Spaniard again contrived to waste his good initial work with Mata as he strayed offside.
Chelsea were forced to replace Cech with Ross Turnbull at half-time but it took Everton over 15 minutes to test the substitute goalkeeper with a hooked attempt that required the former Middlesbrough man to catch on his line.
And though Jelavic beat Turnbull with a cute header from a Leighton Baines cross, the crossbar came to Chelsea`s rescure.
This warning prompted the Blues forward and a half-cleared knockdown from Eden Hazard found its way to Mata, who drew a good save from Howard. Lampard, though, sharp as a knife, pounced on the loose ball to drill into the net.
A series of substitutions did little to bring the Toffees back into the game and Chelsea should in truth have netted a third were it not for Sylvain Distin`s superb last ditch challenge on Torres.
But Benitez has instilled a renewed determination to the European champions and they were never in danger of relinquishing their lead, though Jelavic missed his kick inside the six-yard box, as they recorded the first away win at Goodison Park this season.
First Published: Monday, December 31, 2012, 08:55