Lampard rises above the abuse

West Ham United 0 Chelsea 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Chelsea fly to Barcelona today expecting a hostile reception at the airport. But it will be nothing compared to the vitriol that was directed towards Frank Lampard at Upton Park.

Chelsea captain John Terry said the insults "crossed the line", especially taunts about Lampard's late mother and his separation from his two young children. Terry was also subjected to chants about his mother's arrest for alleged shoplifting.

The insults hurled at Terry were par for the course at football grounds, more embarrassing than anything else. But he said the spiteful nature of the abuse aimed at Lampard was way beyond the acceptable levels of football banter.

The Chelsea captain said: "Personally, I think they cross the line. Lampsy can take it, I can take it too. I'm not going to give them a chance to have a whinge at me. Lampsy and I are big enough to take it.

"All my family are West Ham and some of them have not come to the game because there were things on a website about what they were going to sing about me."

The insults served only to inspire Lampard, and he set up Salomon Kalou's solitary goal in the 55th minute. Terry and Lampard were warned by referee Mike Dean for their passionate celebrations in front of the main section of West Ham fans in the Bobby Moore Stand, but the Chelsea and England captain was unrepentant.

Terry said: "Well, when we scored I went running over to Lampsy and gave them a bit back, there's nothing wrong with that. The ref had a quiet word and told me not to wind them up but if I can take it, they have to get a little bit back.

"They have to respect it, but when they got a bit back today they all got the arse. That's football. I'll take it. I will take it. And I will give it back. There are things in life you enjoy. We came here and got three points and their fans walked away with nothing. You can't buy that."

For some unknown reason it seems almost accepted wisdom that Lampard, who left West Ham in 2001, will be subjected to vile abuse at Upton Park. Were the taunts to be racist or homophobic, there would be outrage, yet these taunts were just as hateful. The insults became so deeply personal that after the match West Ham chat-rooms contained posts from supporters who said the time had come to draw a line under it all.

Sadly, West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola took the occasion of signing a new four-year deal to sit firmly on the fence. "It's hard for me to comment," he said when asked what he thought about the abuse. "Frank has always been a good professional and a good boy. It's sad to see he has a problem with this crowd. It makes me sorry."

For a side chasing Europe, West Ham provided surprisingly little of a test for Chelsea, but still the Hammers had enough chances to score and give the Chelsea manager, Guus Hiddink , cause for concern. Kieron Dyer, making his first start since a double fracture to his leg in August 2007, had a wonderful opportunity but Petr Cech saved. John Obi Mikel also cleared Diego Tristan's effort off the line, and Cech saved a penalty from Mark Noble after Kalou brought down Herita Ilunga.

Chelsea's thoughts now turn to Barcelona, and the hope that Jose Bosingwa will shrug off stiffness in his thigh to take his place as a make-shift left-back. Hiddink rested Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Michael Ballack and Alex, all of whom are expected to return at the Nou Camp, and witnessed Cech confirm his return to form with that wonderful penalty save.

Hiddink said: "You have to think to play games ahead and I have played this Barcelona game twice in my head. In my head, I have never lost a game in the preparation.

"When you play Manchester United or Liverpool it is less controlled – like a pinball machine. But when you are playing Barcelona it is more difficult as they have control and they can play with the pace of the game.

"Any second – boom – it's going up. They're very smart to control the pace of the game up, but also a little down, so you think that you are in control and then all of a sudden they strike."

Zola tipped his former club to pull off a shock at the Nou Camp, and said a victory was well within their grasp. "I don't think there were many people giving Chelsea too much of a chance when they played Liverpool and they made it," he said.

"This team has got desire to win so don't be surprised if they produce an incredible game and maybe win. The core of the team is a strong core and they will try everything to win."

West Ham (4-4-2): Green; Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga; Boa Morte (Savio, 72), Dyer (Sears, 61), Noble, Stanislaus; Tristan, Di Michele (Kovac, 61). Substitutes not used: Lastuvka (gk), Lopez, Spector, Payne.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Mancienne (Ballack, 83), Ivanovic, Terry, Bosingwa (Cole, 59); Belletti, Mikel; Kalou (Essien, 73), Lampard, Malouda; Anelka. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Di Santo, Drogba, Stoch.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: West Ham Stanislaus.

Man of the match: Lampard.

Attendance: 34,749.