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Frank Lampard: The Ghost of Chelsea's Past Comes Back to Haunt Them
It may only have been a few months since he departed a team he holds the all-time goal-scoring record, played 648 times in just over a dozen seasons for, and helped become one of the best teams on the planet; but his departure has now come at an unfamiliar cost to the Blues.
Frank Lampard left Chelsea at the end of his contract in the summer of 2014 to join the new Major League Soccer team, New York City FC, and has since returned to the English premier league to join Chelsea's biggest title rivals, Manchester City, in a loan deal that will see the former England international play for the team from the blue end of Manchester till the commencement of the 2015 MLS season.
Before his reunion with Chelsea at the Etihad, the 36 years old attacking midfield legend had starred for his new side once already in the 2:2 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Manchester City v. Chelsea
Chelsea paid the current premier league title holders a call for a chance to extend their lead against their rivals to 8 points. The game started out just as many had predicted as both sides stayed on the cautious side; unwilling to commit too many numbers forward.
Jose Mourinho, not prepared to relinquish a 5-point gap against their biggest title rivals, set up his side in a defensive/counter attacking formation that saw his side sit back and soak up Manchester City attacks hitting the lighter Blues on the counter. The Portuguese tactician's ploy paid off as Chelsea were able to keep City at bay throughout the first 45 creating a couple of chances of their own from the flanks during fast breaks.
Chelsea came out the more adventurous of the two teams after the break. And after some reckless tackling that led to a second yellow card for Manchester City's right back, Pablo Zabaleta, the Blues saw themselves a man up and made full use of the advantage to maraud the City defense. The onslaught subsequently resulted in a goal from second half substitute, Andre Schurrle, after the world cup winning German connected with a delicately crafted Eden Hazard low-cross in the 71st minute.
Jose Mourinho's men took their foot off the gas following the opening goal and Manchester City took the initiated to press forward for an equalizer. Their efforts was duly rewarded in the 85th minute when Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard, connected with a James Milner cross inside Chelsea's box 7 minutes after coming in for Aleksandar Kolarov.
The match was as good as done-and-dusted after the equalizer as Manchester City were unwilling to risk conceding a late goal by pressing forward and exposing themselves at the back, while Chelsea were more than content with a point at the home of their biggest opponents in the league.
Frank Lampard was cheered by the Manchester City fans as he walked off the Etihad Stadium after his goal helped his new side to a precious point against league leaders Chelsea. The ex-Chelsea man left the pitch with misted-eyes as cheers from his former team supporters engulfed the stadium. The City man, not known for expressing emotions, had no choice but to acknowledge the Chelsea fans by waving and clapping to their praises and cheers.
By scoring against Chelsea, Frank Lampard showed why he has been considered one of the best attacking midfielder the sport has ever seen. He has further demonstrated that even at 36 he still has what it takes to deliver when it matters the most. His crucial strike on the day proved to be the much needed lifeline for Manchester City to stop Chelsea from running away from them with an 8-point lead this campaign.
The ex-England man, speaking after the game, expressed how much of a challenge it was for him playing against Chelsea. "I have done it for years, but to come on against Chelsea and score, I'd never have believed it."
"It's weird. Coming in to the cheers from the Chelsea fans. As a professional you can't apologize for scoring goals. The way they were (Chelsea fans) before the goal, the way the were after the goals I'll never forget."
Lampard then went on to add that the support of the Chelsea fans, regardless of the fact that he spoiled the day for them, is something he will never forget.