Frank Lampard breathed fresh life into the Premier League title race as the Chelsea midfielder’s late penalty clinched a 2-1 victory over leaders Manchester United, last night.
Lampard’s dramatic winner came after referee Martin Atkinson ruled that United defender Chris Smalling had brought down Chelsea substitute Yuri Zhirkov with 10 minutes to go at Stamford Bridge. It was a hammer blow for United, who suffered just their second league defeat this season despite taking the lead through Wayne Rooney’s first-half strike.
Brazilian defender David Luiz equalised with his first goal for Chelsea soon after half-time and Lampard sealed the points before captain Nemanja Vidic was sent off for a second booking in stoppage time.
While fourth-place Chelsea’s hopes of retaining the title are still slender as they trail United by 12 points, their win has done a massive favour to second-place Arsenal. The Gunners can close to within one point of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team if they win their game in hand.
Ferguson had kept faith with the players that won emphatically at Wigan on Saturday, which meant he sent out an unchanged United team for the first time in 165 games, and they dominated in the first half. Ashley Cole, hit by revelations that he accidently shot a student with an air-rifle at Chelsea’s training ground, was greeted with shouts of “shoot” from both sets of fans whenever he got anywhere near United’s penalty area. Nicolas Anelka took that advice as he flashed wide from long range.
Chelsea midfielder Ramires was lucky to escape with just a booking for an ugly two-footed lunge on Michael Carrick and that tackle sparked United into life. Ferguson’s side, who last won at Chelsea back in 2002, threatened for the first time when Patrice Evra’s low cross narrowly eluded Rooney and should have taken the lead moments later.
Nani’s cross gave Rooney a clear sight of goal, but his woefully mistimed header sailed wide of the target. However, Rooney, cleared to play after dodging an FA ban for his elbow on Wigan’s James McCarthy, showed why he remains United’s most dangerous force as he opened the scoring in the 30th minute. Taking Nani’s short pass in his stride, Rooney turned towards the penalty area and, with Branislav Ivanovic backing off, he had time and space to unleash a powerful low strike that arrowed into the bottom corner of Petr Cech’s net.
Van der Sar almost gifted Chelsea an immediate equaliser when he fumbled Lampard’s venomous free-kick, but he recovered to block Ivanovic’s attempt from the rebound and Vidic alertly cleared off the line.
The Blues drew level from virtually their first decent delivery of the match in the 54th minute. Michael Essien floated over a teasing cross that Ivanovic flicked onto Luiz and he blasted a half-volley past Van der Sar. The goal seemed to bring out the street fighter in Luiz and he was booked for a bone-crunching tackle on Rooney before enraging Ferguson with a body-check on the same player.
Rooney should have restored United’s lead in the 64th minute when Nani’s pass sent him sprinting clear of the Chelsea defence but he curled wide. Ryan Giggs came on to make his 606th league appearance for United — equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s record — and he made an instant impression as his chipped pass put Rooney through to fire straight at Cech.
Another substitute, Chelsea’s Zhirkov, had the decisive impact, however. Drogba and Lampard worked the ball towards Zhirkov and he stumbled under the slightest of touches from Smalling, prompting Atkinson to award a penalty. Lampard slammed the 80th minute spot-kick past Van der Sar and then Vidic deflected Zhirkov’s shot onto a post before the Serbian defender saw red for tugging back Ramires.
CAF CL: Why Akwa United Struggled Against CR Belouizdad
Coach Kennedy Boboye admitted that Akwa United failed in their bid to replace the players that left the club.
Boboye revealed this in his post match confe-rence after Akwa United kick-started their 2021-2022 CAF Champions League campaign with a 1-0 win over CR Belouizdad of Algeria on Sunday.
The Promise Keepers lost influential stars like Charles Atshimene and Olisa Ndah to CD Feirense of Portugal and Orlando Pirates of South Africa respectively earlier this month.
Recall that Ndah and Atshimene played key role in Akwa United’s NPFL title victory and Boboye admitted that the club was unable to bring in replacement.
He said: “This is what we have gotten. Most of the players we tried to get did not come.”
“We can’t stop players from travelling. It is unfortunate that we started the tournament very early.”
“We have not been able to play together for a long time. By the time we surpass this stage, we would be better than before,” he said.
Remo Stars To Appoint Ogunbote Head Coach
Nigeria Professional Football League New Boys, Remo Stars are on the verge of appointing Gbenga Ogunbote as their new coach.
Reports revealed that Remo Stars manage-ment will appoint the former Enyimba and Sunshine Stars boss to take over the reign from Daniel Ogunbodede who tutored the team last season.
Ogunbote was spot-ted with the Ikenne-based club during the just concluded NNL Super 8 in Enugu.
The club is set to announce the mana-gerial change in the coming days, but nothing has been heard, concerning the future of Daniel Ogunbodede.
Ogunbodede helped Remo Stars seal their return to the elite division after finishing second in NNL playoff in Group A.
CAFCL: Eguma Warns Players Against Complacency
Rivers United Coach, Stanley Eguma, has warned his players against comp-lacency ahead of their CAF Champions Lea-gue second leg prelimi-nary game against Young Africans.
The Pride of Rivers defeated the Tanzanian side 1-0 at the Benjamin Mkapa Nat-ional Stadium on Sunday.
Samuel Omodumuke scored the winning goal for the visitors in the 52nd minute to give the Eguma’s side advant-age of going to the next game.
The return leg will take place next week Sunday at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt.
Speaking ahead of the second meeting, Eguma hinted that his players need to forget about the first leg result and approach the second leg with all seriousness.
“They are a good side and have mobile players.
“We need to have the right mentality when we play them at home, we must not relent and fight as if we have not played the first leg.
“We must put in everything in the second leg, that is going to be our approach.”
“The players need to rise to the occasion to ensure that we seal the qualification,” he said.
- Maritime4 days ago
Pirates Attack Vessel, Injure Crew Members At GoG
- Rivers4 days ago
LG Boss Hosts HOSTCOM, Lauds Group’s Proactiveness
- Opinion4 days ago
Abuses Of Indemnifying Provisions
- Niger Delta4 days ago
C’River Police Decry Shortage Of Personnel To Fight Crime
- Opinion4 days ago
Texas Of Icy Trauma
- Oil & Energy4 days ago
MOMAN Seeks Representation In PIA Implementation Committee
- Sports4 days ago
Diamond League Win African Record Thrills Amusan
- Politics4 days ago
NASS Has Spent 2% Of Nat’l Budget -Gbajabiamila