Scottish Premier League

Butcher reflects on 'incredible' spell

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Sun, 30 Dec 2012 16:08:00

Frank Lampard scored twice as Chelsea came back from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park.

Steven Pienaar had given the home side a second-minute lead but Lampard found the equaliser just before the interval and was on the spot to net the winner with 20 minutes to go.

Everton had started the game feverishly as they pressed Chelsea high up the field and had their reward after just 63 seconds.

Pienaar played in Phil Jagielka down the right flank and when Victor Anichebe headed the subsequent cross against the bar, there was the South African again to fire the rebound past Petr Cech.

The Toffees nearly doubled their lead shortly afterwards when Nikica Jelavic curled a free-kick against the post as David Moyes' side continued to swarm all over the visitors.

Cech also saved brilliantly from Jelavic later in the half but by that point Chelsea were edging their way back into the contest and found an equaliser just before the break.

Fernando Torres found Ramires on the right and his left-footed cross reached Lampard just outside the six-yard box with the 34-year-old measuring his header into the bottom corner of the net.

If Chelsea were fortunate to go in level at the interval then they were even luckier when Jelavic saw a brilliant header come back off the crossbar in the second half.

But Rafa Benitez's side showed plenty of resolve and took the lead after 72 minutes - thanks to that man Lampard.

Juan Mata started the move and looked to have finished it when he drilled a shot on goal but Howard saved well only for Lampard to shovel home the winning goal from close range.

Everton threw everything at Chelsea in the latter stages in a desperate attempt to maintain their unbeaten home record but the visitors defended brilliantly to see out the win and go third.

The point extended Caley Thistle's unbeaten run to nine games and left them six points off Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic.

Only the champions and Motherwell have beaten Inverness, who have cup ties against Hearts and Kilmarnock to look forward to in the opening weeks of next year.

Inverness last failed to find the net in a draw against Dunfermline in May, which secured their SPL status.

The Highlanders will have no such relegation worries this season and Butcher was happy with the way his side battled for a point despite seeing their goalscoring record come to a halt after a game where both sides cancelled each other out despite plenty of effort going forward.

Butcher, whose side face Ross County away on Wednesday, said: "It keeps us in second place and after 26 matches we have only lost three games. That's incredible in itself.

"If you had said that in July I would have said 'no chance'. This is all beyond our wildest dreams.

"Someone said the treble is still on. I said 'fine, whatever you are drinking, I'll have a bucketload of that'.

"I just think it's a good point for us. We also got a clean sheet and it's a hard-fought point.

"We haven't played with the fluency we can do because we weren't allowed to - St Johnstone got in our faces and made it difficult for us.

"They are a strong side, a big side and they play some decent football.

"They got through us on quite a few occasions in the second half but the back four held firm.

"Matthew Cooper is only 18 and I thought he had an excellent game. We put on two 18-year-olds, Conor Pepper and Phil Roberts, and Nick Ross, who hasn't played for four months.

"It's been a tremendous squad effort to get to where we are and we are there and fighting tooth and nail to stay there and enjoy it as well."

Inverness did not look like losing their goals record in the opening stages when Billy McKay and Andrew Shinnie both had one-on-ones, although neither were straightforward.

McKay curled just wide from a tight angle and Shinnie was quickly closed down by Alan Mannus after taking the ball past two players.

Gregory Tade had a similar chance saved for the hosts, who also saw David McCracken's header cleared off the line.

St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas was happy to end Caley Thistle's goalscoring record but demanded his side start Wednesday's visit of Dundee in more competent fashion.

Lomas said: "We didn't start great and Inverness nearly took advantage, it was a great save from Mannus.

"We spoke about that before the game, that we needed to start quicker than we did against Hearts and Dundee United and unfortunately we didn't do.

"The next game is huge for us, we want to sign off with a home win before the break.

"We have to recover right and look at the players, we were looking tired in the last 10-15 minutes."

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