Chelsea v Everton
A stoppage-time goal from Frank Lampard condemned Everton to a 1-0 defeat that they really didn’t deserve at Stamford Bridge.
The Toffees had stood toe-to-toe with their hosts until the Chelsea midfielder's free-kick was inadvertently diverted in by goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Roberto Martinez had to shuffle his pack before the game had even started when Lacina Traore pulled out of the starting 11 with a hamstring problem. Steven Naismith stepped in and Luke Garbutt was added to the substitutes list.
On four minutes, Willian skipped in-field but the Brazilian’s final effort lacked both power and direction and was of no trouble to Howard.
Everton almost snatched a sensational lead on 12 minutes when Leon Osman hit a terrific strike from 25-yards that was arrowing towards the top corner until Petr Cech made a superb flying save.
The hosts were then grateful for Gary Cahill’s block when Kevin Mirallas shot from inside the box.
Much of Everton’s play in the early phase was pleasant on the eye but Cech was well protected by those in front of him.
As was Howard at the other end, although the American had to be alert to smother a low drive from Cesar Azpilicueta mid-way through the first half.
Phil Jagielka glanced a header well wide and Mirallas should have done better when he had an opening at the end of the half - but by and large the first 45 minutes was bereft of genuine opportunities.
Lampard had a clear sight of goal four minutes after the restart but Howard saved his first effort and Sylvain Distin blocked the follow-up.
At the other end, a low drive from Osman took a slight nick off Mirallas and Cech had to dive low to turn the ball past the post.
On the hour mark Howard excelled himself with a super double save. First he threw himself to his left to parry an Eden Hazard shot and then he reacted brilliantly to keep out the rebound volley from Branislav Ivanovic.
Fernando Torres came on for Chelsea in the second half but his best chance was inadvertently diverted off target by Hazard in the 76th minute.
Another Chelsea substitute, Ramires, had Everton hearts in mouths when he smashed a fine shot inches wide of the upright with a minute to go.
And just when it seemed as though the battling Toffees had earned a share of the spoils, Lampard snatched victory.