Lampard seizes his chance to make point

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Chelsea 2


Frank Lampard spent so long celebrating with the Chelsea fans in the Steve Bull stand at the end of the match yesterday that Andre Villas-Boas gave up waiting for him on the pitch and walked down the tunnel with the rest of his victorious team, leaving his match-winner to come back in his own time.

The pair of them shaking hands or embracing, as Villas-Boas had done moments earlier with a bare-chested John Terry, would have been the picture to soothe the bubbling stories of discontent at the club but it never happened. Lampard wanted his moment with the Chelsea fans and he was not for rushing back. Chances to score the kind of crucial goal he did have been fewer than ever under this new young manager.

It was a day that began with another story about the rift between Villas-Boas and senior players at Chelsea, one which prompted an indignant denial from the manager. It ended with the pressure being lifted from Villas-Boas by Lampard's goal. And along the way there were a few subplots that made this another fascinating day in the development of Chelsea under Villas-Boas.

It was not just Lampard's lingering celebrations with the Chelsea fans that meant he avoided encountering Villas-Boas in the centre of the pitch. There was also a strangely contrived goal celebration following Ramires' first for Chelsea on 50 minutes when a group of players – mainly the Lusophone contingent, it should be said – headed over to the touchline for a man-hug session with Villas-Boas and his assistants.

On that occasion, John Terry arrived at the party too late and Lampard did not even make it over at all. In his post-match press conference, Villas-Boas avoided giving Lampard any personal credit – although, it should be said, that is common with this Chelsea manager. Nevertheless it provoked an outraged response from Phil Thompson on Sky Sports. This is not an issue that is likely to just go away.

That was the politics of the Chelsea camp; the game was another story altogether. Having lost so disastrously at home to Aston Villa, with Lampard gifting the opposition the third goal on that occasion, this game looked like it could be yet another cock-up from Villas-Boas's players when Stephen Ward scored an equaliser on 72 minutes.

Before then, Chelsea had much the better of the second half. They worked hard to push Wolves back and played like a team that knows it is in urgent need of a win. Fernando Torres had one of his better days, accelerating past defenders from a standing start and attacking without the moping that has become commonplace for him.

The Chelsea goal had come from a corner that was poorly defended by Wolves. Terry jumped to challenge for the ball, did not reach it and it came through to Ramires. The Brazilian midfielder, who had been impressive all afternoon, held off Ward and blasted the ball into the roof of the Wolves goal.

Chelsea had spent the first half making little progress until the later stages when Jose Bosingwa and Terry had both come close. Before then the referee Peter Walton had struggled to keep a lid on the game during a flurry of bookings for five players across both teams, the most controversial of which was for Lampard for a tackle on Adam Hammill.

Given how fervently the Wolves manager, Mick McCarthy, had argued against Stuart Attwell's decision to dismiss Nenad Milijas at the Emirates last month, you had to wonder whether that would play on Walton's mind in Lampard's case. The studs of one boot were raised, they connected with Hammill and it was a decision that could go either way – even Lampard said later "my heart was in my mouth".

That it should be Lampard who came back to score the winner would, you suspected, only further stoke McCarthy's indignation. However, by the time of his post-match press conference he had made a decision not to go down that route. "It [the Lampard decision] is irrelevant," he said. "Defend the bleeding cross. They shouldn't have scored and I should have been sat here talking about a 1-1 draw."

It provoked a bout of bad feeling between the players during which five in all were booked in the space of eight minutes. Ashley Cole landed a high kick on Kevin Doyle and then lashed out when he was on the ground. He should have been booked but only Doyle was shown a card for throwing the ball at Cole. Karl Henry and Oriol Romeu also followed into the referee's book.

The game was low on quality with Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge, both injured, notable absentees. That is the last Chelsea will see of Drogba for some time as he meets up with the Ivory Coast squad on Saturday for the Cup of African Nations. Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou were also unavailable.

As for Wolves, McCarthy gave Emmanuel Frimpong his debut and rested Matt Jarvis, Steven Fletcher and Stephen Hunt. He said he could simply not afford to push them too hard. But with his team a goal down he brought on Jarvis and Fletcher and the two combined well to create Ward's goal. Jarvis played the ball into the area for Fletcher to knock down and the defender finished confidently from close range.

It looked grim for Chelsea. On form it was hard to see them scoring a winner but when it came it was expertly made. Lampard played the ball in to Torres, who spread it out left to Cole. When he crossed, it was Lampard who arrived on time to force it into the goal.

Even Villas-Boas would struggle to argue that the transition under his stewardship is developing painlessly. It feels like there will be many more awkward afternoons like this one until he finally has the team working the way he wants, with the individuals in whom he believes. In an ideal world he would also wean them of their reliance on Lampard's goals but this was not an afternoon to be picky.

It turned out to be Lampard's day, no doubt about that, and if it was the case that he was reluctant to celebrate with his manager at the end then so be it. Villas-Boas is trying to shake it up at Chelsea and even after that goal, Lampard knows there is no guarantee he will be in the team to play Portsmouth in the FA Cup on Sunday.

Match facts

Substitutes: Wolverhampton Wanderers Jarvis 7 (Forde, h-t), Fletcher 6 (Frimpong, 61), Foley (Edwards, 76). Chelsea McEachran (Mata, 87).

Booked: Wolves Hammill, Henry, Doyle. Chelsea Lampard, Romeu.

Man of the match Ramires.

Match rating 6/10.

Possession: Wolves 39% Chelsea 61%.

Attempts on target: Wolves 5 Chelsea 10.

Referee P Walton (Northamptonshire). Att 27,289.

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home