Lampard embraces turn in form

Chelsea midfielder hopes milestone victory over Stoke may prove a turning point
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The Independent Football

Chelsea's Frank Lampard insists his goal celebration on Saturday was a public demonstration that the squad is behind the coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Lampard smashed home a last-gasp winner in the 2-1 victory over Stoke City to cap a stirring fightback by Chelsea and seal his 400th appearance for the club in amazing style.

The England midfielder ran to the technical area after his goal to embrace Scolari and was soon joined by the whole team for an celebratory group hug. "We are all behind him," declared Lampard. "It is difficult when people try to say things to split things up. The manager first of all is a very good man and he has been a very successful manager for a long time.

"Hopefully that success is going to come here. The last month has been difficult. We're in a moment where we make one mistake in a game and we are punished every time. We have had countless chances, but keepers are making amazing saves. It's one of those moments. We can only get through them together, we are all in it together and I think it showed.

"At Man United we knew we didn't play anywhere near as well as we should have done. We underperformed and everyone went to town on us. But you have to be big enough to handle things like that at Chelsea and as a group we showed a lot of spirit and with the celebrations at the end. We deserved to win the game [against Stoke]. It was another day where we dominated but couldn't score and they scored from one chance. You got the bad feeling that we were going to drop points again, but it was a bit different. The character and team spirit we showed shone through in the end and we got what we deserved." Lampard is now hoping the victory could prove to be a turning point in their season. Chelsea are still in the title hunt but have lost Joe Cole for the rest of the campaign with knee ligament damage.

The Blues have already dropped 14 points at home and they know Stamford Bridge must become a fortress again if they are to have any chance of regaining the title. "There are always pivotal moments in seasons where you think that changed something there and hopefully this can be that," Lampard said. "This could be a turning point as long as we follow through with it. We took a good attitude into the game, dominated in the first half and could have been 2-0 up. Hopefully we can get out of this groove where we concede after making one mistake and be a bit more ruthless in front of goal and take our chances. We've lost to all the big teams, we're not happy about that but we're still in the mixer because everyone's dropping points.

"You look at Man United, they're on a great run, but winning 1-0 every week, apart from against us, and nicking results. All the teams will have ups and downs. We have had a dodgy month, but we're still in the hunt.

"This club has become my life," Lampard said. "It has been eight years now and I wouldn't have believed when I came here that I would get to make 400 appearances and have the kind of success I have had here. I didn't realise I was 400 games old, I just hope I have a lot more to come."

The Stoke manager Tony Pulis has rounded on Chelsea and accused their foreign players of going to ground too easily. He was dismayed at the conduct of some of the opposition, particularly Germany's Michael Ballack. "The problem with foreign players is they go down and stay down," he said. "Our players jump up after a foul. James Beattie went down three minutes after Michael Ballack went down and jumped straight up.

"He doesn't roll around trying to get someone a booking. They try to put pressure on a referee but we have to accept that. I was born in Wales, I played my football in England and we are different to them I suppose. I am not having a go at him [Ballack], it is just their culture."

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