Chelsea v Sunderland reaction

Lampard was in the right place at the right time for the ball to

bounce off him into the net after Fernando Torres’ superb scissors

kick careered off the crossbar.

It was the midfielder’s 12th goal of the season, his third in as

many games since his latest recall to the side and the 181st since

he joined Chelsea 10 and a half years ago.

He is now just 12 and 21 goals, respectively, shy of fellow

Blues legends Kerry Dixon and Bobby Tambling in the all-time

list.

Manager Villas-Boas, who this week insisted he enjoyed a

“fantastic” relationship with Lampard amid reports to the contrary,

said: “He will continue to threaten all remaining Chelsea

records.

“He is almost within a 10-goal distance now from another Chelsea

legend and it’s good for him.”

Suggesting Lampard’s goal owed more to instinct than luck, he

added: “Frank is always a player who has this amazing timing of

arrival in the box.

“It’s not coincidence that he’s one of the best goalscoring

midfielders in the world and his timing is magnificent.”

The same cannot be said about team-mate Torres for most of the

striker’s Chelsea career, but he produced one of the best

performances since last year’s £50million move from

Liverpool.

The Stamford Bridge crowd responded with arguably their biggest

show of support yet for a player who is in the midst of another

goal drought.

Villas-Boas, who is playing Torres during Didier Drogba’s

absence at the African Nations Cup, said: “He’s getting his good

run now of games, finding inspiration, finding motivation, finding

form, has all the team behind him and has the fans behind him as

you saw today.

“It’s good to see that the player is picking up confidence,

assisting people. He hasn’t been scoring but is getting nearer

every time.

“As long as he helps the team to win games, I think we are happy

with what he’s doing.”

Torres had two penalty appeals turned down and was harshly

booked for the second of them, but Sunderland also had a decent

shout of their own.

Villas-Boas had yet to see replays of any of them but accepted

the visitors created plenty of other chances.

“For us to put an end to Sunderland’s amazing run of form, it

would always take incredible effort from us and it happened,” he

said, delighted his side had capitalised on draws for Tottenham and

Liverpool at the same time as closing the gap to leaders Manchester

City to eight points.

“An important weekend for us bearing in mind the weekend’s

results.”

Villas-Boas confirmed Gary Cahill, who attended Saturday’s game,

was set to complete his move from Bolton on Sunday.

He also hailed the return Michael Essien, who came off the bench

to make his first appearance of the season following knee

surgery.

Villas-Boas said: “To see a player that makes the switch so

quick from a reserve-team game to full Premier League intensity in

such a short time, it’s amazing.

“You have to compliment our medical department. They’ve reduced

for at least a month Michael’s return to football.

“It’s very, very gratifying for the team to have him back.”

Frustrated Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill was adamant his side’s

penalty claim, for a foul on Nicklas Bendtner, was legitimate.

“I had a quick flash before I came out at ours and ours is

obviously a definite penalty,” he said.

“I’ve been told, certainly, that the first one (on Torres) at

our end is not a penalty.”

O’Neill was even more upset about the opportunities his side

squandered, with James McClean missing an open goal and Craig

Gardner and Bendtner also snatching at presentable chances.

“We missed at least five really good opportunities and I think

that’s too many,” he said.

“I know scoring a goal is pretty difficult but it’s not that

difficult.

“A blundering full-back could’ve stuck a couple of those in –

from about four leagues below.”

Insisting he would not panic buy in the January transfer window

as a result, he added: “I don’t think your immediate reaction would

be to race out to get somebody who could score 20 goals. He’d only

cost about £35million anyway.”

Sunderland lost defender Matthew Kilgallon to an ankle injury at

half-time after he landed awkwardly making an aerial challenge.

“He went over on his ankle and I think somebody also landed on

top of him,” O’Neill said.

“It’s really unfortunate for the lad.”

O’Neill refused to be too downcast about what was a rare setback

since his arrival at Sunderland transformed their season.

He said: “When you consider that Chelsea were overwhelmed at the

final whistle, I suppose we take some sort of consolation.”