Lampard shows nerve to rescue point for Chelsea

West Ham 1 Chelsea 1

Frank Lampard showed the nerve which has made him one of England's finest players to rescue a point which takes Chelsea four points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League at Christmas.

Lampard, once hailed but now routinely jeered inside the Upton Park ground he graced as a youngster, slotted home a penalty in the second half which he was forced to take three times.

Some players might have been thrown by that. Lampard simply kept rippling the back of West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green's net until referee Mike Dean finally signalled the goal which cancelled out a first-half penalty by Alessandro Diamanti.

But if it signalled two dropped points for Chelsea in their quest for the title, then for West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola perhaps this was the corner he has been waiting to turn.

The corner which means the Hammers will not be bottom on Christmas Day, which is usually a prelude to relegation.

Instead, Zola can forget bringing in a psychologist, as he had admitted thinking of, to boost the confidence of his West Ham players.

All he needs to do is show them the video of this battling performance, when at last they added grit to their undoubted style.

Maybe the improvement was sparked by the fact that Zola was facing his old club and opposing manager Carlo Ancelotti, with whom he used to play for Italy.

You certainly could not fault West Ham's work rate, nor their readiness to play football. They were committed to the fluent, passing, scampering style of play for which Zola has always been famed.

Scott Parker, in particular, was a terrier in the centre of midfield. So was Jack Collison, while Guillermo Franco was a threat up front.

True, Chelsea, with Joe Cole and Lampard back on the ground where they learned their football, always had more physical power.

They might have taken the lead after 22 minutes when Branislav Ivanovic's powerful header from a corner was chested off the line by Parker.

Lampard, who received a predictably hostile reception, also spurned a good chance when he fluffed a left-footed shot from eight yards.

But it was West Ham who took the lead and no-one could say they did not deserve it, even if it was via the penalty spot.

Collison surged at the heart of Chelsea's defence and as he bore down on goalkeeper Petr Cech, England full-back Ashley Cole slid in.

The tackle needed to be perfect. It wasn't and referee Mike Dean had no hesitation pointing to the spot to allow Diamanti to send Cech the wrong way.

Cue the sort of Upton Park euphoria which has been in scarce supply this season.

It must have been an easy half-time team talk for Zola. Carry on playing as you are.

And they tried to, snapping and harrying the blue shirts with a tenacity which made a nonsense of their lowly league position.

They were undone by what looked like a dodgy refereeing decision from Mr Dean, who pointed to the spot when Matthew Upson tackled Chelsea substitute Daniel Sturridge.

It looked as if he took the ball, a message he attempted to deliver to the assistant referee when he raced to the touchline miming the shape of a football.

No matter, Lampard took the spot kick and scored, only for it to be scratched by the referee for encroaching players. Lampard tried again and scored again, only for the picky Mr Dean to order the kick to be retaken once more.

To Lampard's credit he did not let it upset him, stroking the ball home once more and this time the referee did point to the halfway line.

West Ham could have let their heads drop as they have done in recent months when faced with adversity.

But they did not and it took a diving save from Cech in the 72nd minute to beat away a powerful left-foot shot from the lively Diamanti.

They also found the resilience to keep out a surging Chelsea finish.

"Things can change very quickly in football," Zola told the fans in the matchday programme.

He was right. Now the Hammers need a lot more of the same.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific