Everton vs. Chelsea  1 - 2

Article

Benitez not drawn on Lampard, Ba

30 December 2012 18:07

Rafael Benitez was tight-lipped on a potential move for Demba Ba and the future of Frank Lampard after Chelsea's 2-1 win at Everton.

Lampard, 34, is out of contract at the end of the season and expected to leave Chelsea after being given no indication of a new deal materialising.

The stalwart midfielder made a strong case for that decision to be reconsidered on Sunday, netting twice as Chelsea came from behind to beat Everton at Goodison Park.

"I am really pleased with the team, credit to Frank for the goals," Chelsea interim manager Benitez was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.

"Frank is under contract, doing well, fully committed. My job is to keep him fit."

Lampard himself was giving little away when quizzed on his future after the English Premier League clash on Merseyside.

"I will keep trying to give my best as I've always done when here and will continue to do so," he said.

"I just hope to keep playing in a winning team."

Another player with his future up in the air is Newcastle United striker Demba Ba.

The in-form Senegal international is believed to have a seven million-pound buyout clause included in his contract, which Chelsea are reportedly set to trigger in the January transfer window.

When asked if he was prepared to discuss a possible swoop for Ba, Benitez said: "No, because we don't talk about this business, we had a very important game today."

Everton manager David Moyes was proud of his players' efforts and felt they were unfortunate not to earn a draw.

"We're not disappointed with the way we've played because we played really well and we've run the European champions really close. But we didn't quite have enough in the end," Moyes said.

"We had played well enough to get a second goal but had been unfortunate, having shots back off the woodwork. I thought we were a bit unlucky."

Article

Premier League: Everton 1 Chelsea 2

30 December 2012 16:42

Frank Lampard netted twice as Chelsea came from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1 away from home in the English Premier League on Sunday.

Everton started proceedings brightly as Steven Pienaar rifled home an opener in the second minute of the match at Goodison Park.

But Lampard struck to bring Chelsea level after a first half in which they were largely dominated by the hosts, before the veteran midfielder pounced on a loose ball in the second half to claim what would proved to be the winner.

The game started with at a high tempo 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 for the South African to power home from 12 yards out.

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 and 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.

The threat of a second Everton goal sparked Rafael Benitez's side into life and it was Ramires' driving run at the heart of the defence that 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 on the by-line, but the Spaniard's 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. The Croatian's powerful low shot across goal was tipped behind by Cech.

Then came the equaliser, as Fernando Torres played the ball in to 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 side attack with real 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 by straying offside.

Despite Chelsea replacing the injured Cech with Ross Turnball at half-time, it took Everton over 15 minutes to test the back-up goalkeeper, as a hooked attempt at goal required the former Middlesbrough man to catch on his goal line.

And though Jelavic beat Turnball with a cute header from a Leighton Baines cross, the crossbar came to Chelsea's rescue.

That warning prompted the visitors to renew their forays forward.

A half-cleared knockdown from Eden Hazarad 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 Everton 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, even as Jelavic missed his kick inside the six-yard box, as they recorded the first away win at Goodison Park this season.

Article

Benitez praises Cahill-Ivanovic partnership

30 December 2012 11:40

Rafa Benitez says Chelsea defenders Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic are developing a 'much better' understanding at centre-back.

Despite only conceding 17 Premier League goals this season, the Blues have had their fair share of defensive woes with captain John Terry out with a knee injury and David Luiz struggling for form.

However, with the Brazilian being moved into a defensive midfield position and the Serbia and England internationals forming a strong bond, the Stamford Bridge interim manager thinks the hard work in training is paying off.

"Cahill and Ivanovic are good players and the understanding between them is much better now. We are adjusting and with good ­players, this is always easier," he told The Mirror.

"Since I arrived, we have been ­working with different defenders. The team is strong in defence and we have the balance ­because we can still attack.

"It is a ­question of spending hours on the pitch and on the training ground. You can see the difference (with Ivanovic and Cahill)."

The duo will have a stern test against sixth-placed Everton on Sunday afternoon, as the Toffees can rise above Chelsea into third place with a win at Goodison Park, pushing Chelsea out of the top four in the process.

The Champions League holders were knocked out of Europe in the group stages this season, and are currently 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United, albeit with two games in hand.

Article

Benitez predicts difficult away day

28 December 2012 17:54

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez says his players must be ready for a tough encounter against direct rivals Everton on Saturday.

Everton are fifth on the English Premier League table, just two points behind third-placed Chelsea, after impressing in the first half of 2012/13.

For Benitez, it will be a first trip back to Goodison Park since his time in charge of Everton's Merseyside rivals Liverpool, and the Spaniard knows all about the threat posed by David Moyes' outfit.

"I think they are doing a good job," he said.

"They are doing well. They have less resources than other teams and are still competing.

"They are near the top of the table so credit to them. It is a good team and a tough game for sure. We have to be ready.

"For us, we have to be ready physically as well as mentally for the game.

"They have been doing well in the past year and we know that Goodison is a difficult place to go to."

For Everton, Champions League qualification appears within their reach for the first time since 2004/05, but Moyes is under no illusion about the challenge his team face to book a spot in UEFA's elite club competition.

"I get asked the question (about Europe) a lot and it's going to be tough, so if anybody thinks that we're a shoo in there to do it, I'm telling you it's going to be a long hard season," he said.

"We've got a lot of difficult away games to come in the second half of the season."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25