Everton were fruitful opponents for Frank Lampard the player but Goodison Park has given him nothing as a manager.
His Chelsea team missed the chance to go top of the Premier League as they succumbed to a first defeat since the second weekend of the season courtesy of Gylfi Sigurdsson’s penalty.
Sigurdsson’s cool first-half spot-kick, awarded after goalkeeper Édouard Mendy flattened Dominic Calvert-Lewin, condemned Chelsea to a third successive loss at Goodison Park. Lampard, who scored 10 goals against Everton during his playing days, saw his team dominate possession but not the chances as Carlo Ancelotti’s enforced defensive system held firm and threatened on the counterattack.
The longest unbeaten run in the Premier League, stretching back to Liverpool’s win at Stamford Bridge in September, disappeared as a result.
The Z-Cars theme was greeted by a tumultuous roar from the 2,000 Evertonians inside Goodison Park, who made a lot of noise for such a restricted crowd, but a calf injury denied them the opportunity to see James Rodríguez in the flesh for the first time.
Rodríguez’s absence forced another tactical change on Ancelotti. After starting the season with an effective 4-3-3, injuries to first-choice full backs Séamus Coleman and Lucas Digne prompted a shift to 3-4-2-1. Now it was 4-4-1-1 with a back line comprised entirely of central defenders including the right-footed Ben Godfrey at left back. Strangely Niels Nkounkou, the young left back who impressed in his early appearances, was once again absent from the match-day squad.
Chelsea’s creative options were also hit by injuries to Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic, although with Kai Havertz and Timo Werner lining up either side of Olivier Giroud the visitors were not exactly bereft of attacking talent. Lampard’s side started brightly, with Havertz and Reece James combining purposefully on the right.
The visitors controlled possession with a confidence befitting a team unbeaten in 17 matches but Everton looked dangerous whenever they were able to put the Chelsea defence under pressure. Alex Iwobi was particularly sharp on the right wing. Richarlison, after a neat exchange with Sigurdsson, found himself free inside the penalty area but steered the first chance of the game tamely at Édouard Mendy.
The Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy needed treatment when he fell heavily having claimed a Sigurdsson free-kick and tumbled over the top of James. Three minutes later, and perhaps still feeling the effects, he conceded a penalty with a late challenge on Dominic Calvert-Lewin, although nothing should be taken away from the Everton centre-forward’s role in the incident.
Calvert-Lewin initially beat Thiago Silva in the air when they challenged for a Jordan Pickford clearance. The striker was also quicker to the second ball than the veteran defender and was body-checked by Mendy inside the area. VAR was not required to confirm the immediate award of a penalty by referee Jonathan Moss and Sigurdsson, watching Mendy all the way, sent the keeper the wrong way with a nonchalant spot-kick.
Chelsea almost responded immediately. Having tested Pickford with a curling free-kick, James went closer when the resulting corner dropped into his path 25 yards from goal. The right back connected perfectly only for his drive to strike the inside of the near post, via a slight deflection off Abdoulaye Doucouré, and cannon across the face of Pickford’s goal.
Kurt Zouma should have done better when Giroud’s header landed at his feet inside the Everton area but shot straight at the England goalkeeper, while Werner fired over from the French forward’s low cross.
Richarlison went close to extending Everton’s advantage either side of the interval when released on the break by the increasingly influential Sigurdsson. A superb first-time ball from the No 10 played the Brazilian through on goal in the 40th minute but Mendy was equal to his low drive.
Early in the second half, from another weighted pass by Everton’s captain for the night, Richarlison raced through and disguised his shot through the legs of Zouma. Mendy produced a superb save at full stretch to deny the forward yet again.
Moss awarded Everton a second penalty when Calvert-Lewin was impeded by Ben Chilwell as he darted across the area. The decision was overturned by VAR, however, as Calvert-Lewin was offside when latching on to Iwobi’s pass in the build-up, though its verdict arrived after Richarlison made a petulant demand to take the penalty instead of Sigurdsson.
Chelsea hit the woodwork for a second time when Mason Mount beat Pickford with an angled free-kick only for the attempt to strike the base of a post with the keeper beaten.