Frank Lampard served a timely reminder of his goal-scoring ability as his double carried Chelsea back to third with a hard-earned win over Everton.
The 34-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, headed in Ramires' cross and stabbed in from close range after his side had conceded in 62 seconds.
Steven Pienaar gave Everton an early lead, following in after Victor Anichebe nodded against the post.
No contract talks yet - Lampard
Nikica Jelavic hit the bar and missed a late chance as the hosts fell short.
Chelsea's fourth successive league win under interim boss Rafael Benitez, after failing to win in his first three, means the Blues finish 2012 four points off Manchester City and 11 off leaders Manchester United, but with a game in hand on both.
Whether Lampard finishes 2013 with the Stamford Bridge club remains in doubt, with the England midfielder free to agree pre-contract terms with a foreign club in January.
For all the promise of Oscar and Eden Hazard and the undoubted ability of Juan Mata, Chelsea's travelling fans made it clear that they believed that it is to soon to consign Lampard, who joined the club 11 and a half years ago, to Chelsea history.
The home team certainly settled into the match like a team at ease in their surroundings, scoring with their first attack.
Benitez tight-lipped on Lampard
In the absence of Seamus Coleman and Phil Neville, Phil Jagielka roamed forward from his unaccustomed right-back spot to deliver a cross that Anichebe nodded against the woodwork. Pienaar gleefully dispatched low past Petr Cech.
With the South African and his midfield partner Leon Osman weaving dangerously in the spaces between David Luiz and Lampard, Everton continued to pen Chelsea back after the opener.
Jelavic smacked the post with a free-kick after he and Pienaar had hustled Gary Cahill out of possession - and Osman's first-time effort demanded a smart save from Cech.
The home fans revelled in their early dominance, taunting Fernando Torres and Rafael Benitez, so long Liverpool figureheads, on their return to Merseyside.
But it was the third of Chelsea's Spanish contingent - Mata - who looked likeliest to silence a boisterous Goodison.
Frank Lampard's influence
Chelsea are unbeaten in all 11 Premier League matches that Frank Lampard has appeared in this season, winning 10.
Lampard has scored in each of his last three Premier League starts
A last-ditch block from Johnny Heitinga denied the former Valencia man, before his probing prised apart Everton again; Ashley Cole inches away from turning in from Cesar Azpilicueta's subsequent cross.
Chelsea's equaliser capped a spell of pressure and ensured Lampard a Premier League haul of five or more goals for the 16th successive season.
Manager David Moyes could not inspire a repeat of Everton's rollicking start to the match as Chelsea, despite the half-time withdrawal of Cech with an ankle injury, started better after the break.
Torres drifted dangerously into space behind Leighton Baines but mis-controlled Luiz's pass, strayed offside to ruin a delicious move, and had a sweetly struck snap-shot from 20 yards saved by Tim Howard.
Everton gave everything - Moyes
Without the presence of Marouane Fellaini, who was serving the
final game of a three-match ban,
Everton struggled to capitalise on the industry and invention of Pienaar and Baines down the left.
The one time that Jelavic met a Baines delivery, his stooping header beat substitute goalkeeper Ross Turnbull but not the bar.
Three minutes later Chelsea were in front for the first time.
Mata was instrumental, crossing for Hazard to nod down before Lampard instinctively volleyed home after the Spaniard's initial effort had been palmed back into the six-yard box.
Jelavic squandered a fine chance to level in injury-time, swiping thin air as he attempted to smash home a Baines cross, but Chelsea could have already made the game safe when Sylvain Distin stretched to intervene as Torres bore down on Howard in the final minute.
Everton manager David Moyes
: "We're not disappointed because we played really well and we've run the European champions really close. but we didn't quite have enough in the end.
"We had played well enough to get a second goal but had been unfortunate, having shots back off the woodwork.
"I thought we were a bit unlucky. We tried to make what we had work the best we could today and for long periods I thought we did."
Branislav Ivanovic fouled by Apostolos Vellios, the ref awards a free kick. Ross Turnbull restarts play with the free kick.
Leighton Baines crosses the ball, Nikica Jelavic takes a shot. Save by Ross Turnbull.
Emboaba Oscar challenges Leon Osman unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ross Barkley takes the direct free kick.
Fernando Torres takes a shot. Sylvain Distin gets a block in. Emboaba Oscar decides to take the corner short.
A cross is delivered by Bryan Oviedo.
Emboaba Oscar takes a shot from long range which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
Emboaba Oscar decides to take the corner short.
Corner taken by Emboaba Oscar played to the near post, clearance by Nikica Jelavic.
The ball is sent over by Nascimento Ramires, clearance by Phil Jagielka.
Booking The referee shows Ashley Cole a yellow card for dissent.
Effort from just outside the area by Ross Barkley goes over the target.
Substitution (Chelsea) makes a substitution, with Emboaba Oscar coming on for Juan Mata.
Leighton Baines crosses the ball, David Luiz makes a clearance.
Apostolos Vellios sends in a cross, clearance made by Cesar Azpilicueta.
Cesar Azpilicueta crosses the ball, Phil Jagielka manages to make a clearance.
Victor Moses takes a shot. Johnny Heitinga gets a block in.
Ross Turnbull restarts play with the free kick.
Substitution Bryan Oviedo is brought on as a substitute for Steven Pienaar.
Unfair challenge on Nascimento Ramires by Steven Pienaar results in a free kick.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Branislav Ivanovic by Apostolos Vellios. Ross Turnbull takes the free kick.
Substitution Ross Barkley comes on in place of Thomas Hitzlsperger.
Substitution Apostolos Vellios is brought on as a substitute for Steven Naismith.
Nikica Jelavic crosses the ball, clearance by Branislav Ivanovic.
Unfair challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta by Steven Pienaar results in a free kick. David Luiz takes the free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Fernando Torres on Sylvain Distin. Sylvain Distin takes the direct free kick.
David Luiz takes the free kick.
Substitution Victor Moses joins the action as a substitute, replacing Eden Hazard.
Booking Sylvain Distin receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.
Sylvain Distin concedes a free kick for a foul on Juan Mata.
The assist for the goal came from Juan Mata.
71:21 Goal scored
Goal! - Frank Lampard - Everton 1 - 2 Chelsea A goal is scored by Frank Lampard from inside the six-yard box to the top right corner of the goal. Everton 1-2 Chelsea.
Juan Mata takes a shot. Save by Tim Howard.
Eden Hazard gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Phil Jagielka. Free kick crossed by Thomas Hitzlsperger, Fernando Torres manages to make a clearance.
Free kick crossed left-footed by Leighton Baines from left wing, clearance made by Nascimento Ramires.
Booking Booking for David Luiz.
Leighton Baines sends in a cross, Nikica Jelavic takes a shot. Steven Pienaar fouled by David Luiz, the ref awards a free kick.
Leon Osman has a drilled shot. Save made by Ross Turnbull.
Fernando Torres takes a shot. Brilliant save by Tim Howard. Corner from the right by-line taken by Juan Mata, Thomas Hitzlsperger manages to make a clearance. Inswinging corner taken by Frank Lampard from the left by-line, comfortable save by Tim Howard.
Free kick taken by Frank Lampard.
Booking Booking for Steven Pienaar for unsporting behaviour.
Steven Pienaar challenges David Luiz unfairly and gives away a free kick.
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Thomas Hitzlsperger, clearance by Nascimento Ramires. Phil Jagielka takes a shot. Save by Ross Turnbull.
The ball is sent over by Leighton Baines, clearance by David Luiz.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Nascimento Ramires on Leighton Baines. Free kick crossed left-footed by Leighton Baines, David Luiz manages to make a clearance.
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Steven Pienaar from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Fernando Torres.
David Luiz challenges Victor Anichebe unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Leon Osman.
David Luiz has a shot on goal from outside the area which misses right.
Nikica Jelavic is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Ross Turnbull takes the free kick.
Cesar Azpilicueta challenges Steven Pienaar unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Sylvain Distin.
Nikica Jelavic is ruled offside. Ross Turnbull takes the indirect free kick.
The official flags Fernando Torres offside. Tim Howard takes the free kick.
Cesar Azpilicueta gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steven Pienaar. Direct free kick taken by Sylvain Distin.
Fernando Torres sends in a cross, Thomas Hitzlsperger makes a clearance.
A cross is delivered by Victor Anichebe, save by Ross Turnbull.
Steven Pienaar crosses the ball, Frank Lampard manages to make a clearance.
Leighton Baines crosses the ball, Branislav Ivanovic makes a clearance.
Corner taken by Eden Hazard from the left by-line played to the near post, Nikica Jelavic manages to make a clearance.
Nascimento Ramires crosses the ball, clearance by Phil Jagielka.
Steven Naismith gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Fernando Torres. Juan Mata restarts play with the free kick.
Thomas Hitzlsperger restarts play with the free kick. Steven Naismith is caught offside. Ross Turnbull restarts play with the free kick.
Booking Gary Cahill goes into the referee's book.
Gary Cahill concedes a free kick for a foul on Leighton Baines.
Foul by Steven Naismith on Ashley Cole, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Branislav Ivanovic.
The referee starts the second half.
Substitution Ross Turnbull replaces Petr Cech.
45:00 +1:22 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.
Fernando Torres takes a shot.
David Luiz challenges Steven Pienaar unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed by Leighton Baines, clearance made by Fernando Torres. Effort by Johnny Heitinga from a long way out goes over the crossbar.
Phil Jagielka delivers the ball, Nascimento Ramires manages to make a clearance.
Centre by Steven Pienaar, save by Petr Cech.
Assist on the goal came from Nascimento Ramires.
41:11 Goal scored
Goal! - Frank Lampard - Everton 1 - 1 Chelsea Frank Lampard grabs a headed goal from inside the box. Everton 1-1 Chelsea.
Nikica Jelavic concedes a free kick for a foul on David Luiz. Frank Lampard has an effort direct from the free kick, blocked by Steven Naismith. Fernando Torres takes a shot. Blocked by Steven Naismith. Eden Hazard takes a inswinging corner.
Centre by Victor Anichebe.
Frank Lampard takes a shot. Comfortable save by Tim Howard.
The official flags Fernando Torres offside. Sylvain Distin takes the indirect free kick.
The ball is sent over by Leon Osman, clearance made by Fernando Torres. Thomas Hitzlsperger sends in a cross, Branislav Ivanovic manages to make a clearance.
Nikica Jelavic takes a shot. Save made by Petr Cech. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Thomas Hitzlsperger, Petr Cech makes a save.
A cross is delivered by Cesar Azpilicueta, Thomas Hitzlsperger manages to make a clearance.
Cesar Azpilicueta sends in a cross.
Steven Pienaar takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, Fernando Torres makes a clearance.
Victor Anichebe sends in a cross.
The official flags Nikica Jelavic offside. Branislav Ivanovic takes the indirect free kick.
Eden Hazard takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Phil Jagielka gets a block in.
Juan Mata takes a shot. Save by Tim Howard.
Thomas Hitzlsperger delivers the ball, Petr Cech makes a comfortable save.
A cross is delivered by Phil Jagielka, Effort from 18 yards by Leon Osman. Save by Petr Cech. Short corner taken by Thomas Hitzlsperger from the left by-line.
Headed effort from inside the area by Victor Anichebe misses to the left of the goal.
A cross is delivered by Fernando Torres, clearance made by Phil Jagielka.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Nikica Jelavic on David Luiz. David Luiz takes the free kick.
Long range effort from Nascimento Ramires misses to the left of the target.
Juan Mata sends in a cross, clearance by Sylvain Distin.
Steven Pienaar sends in a cross.
Fernando Torres gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sylvain Distin. Tim Howard restarts play with the free kick.
The offside flag is raised against Nikica Jelavic. Free kick taken by Branislav Ivanovic.
The referee blows for offside against Fernando Torres. Johnny Heitinga takes the free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Steven Pienaar on David Luiz. Direct free kick taken by David Luiz.
Unfair challenge on Gary Cahill by Nikica Jelavic results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Petr Cech.
A cross is delivered by Steven Naismith, clearance by Gary Cahill.
The ball is sent over by Leighton Baines, Petr Cech makes a comfortable save.
A cross is delivered by Steven Pienaar, clearance made by Gary Cahill. Corner taken by Thomas Hitzlsperger, Branislav Ivanovic manages to make a clearance. Corner taken left-footed by Thomas Hitzlsperger, Foul by Nikica Jelavic on Branislav Ivanovic, free kick awarded. Petr Cech takes the free kick.
Nikica Jelavic challenges Frank Lampard unfairly and gives away a free kick. David Luiz takes the free kick.
Gary Cahill concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Pienaar. Shot comes in from Nikica Jelavic from the free kick.
Victor Anichebe provided the assist for the goal.
1:02 Goal scored
Goal! - Steven Pienaar - Everton 1 - 0 Chelsea Steven Pienaar fires in a goal from deep inside the penalty box low into the middle of the goal. Everton 1-0 Chelsea.
A cross is delivered by Phil Jagielka, Headed effort from inside the area by Victor Anichebe strikes the post.
The ball is swung over by Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill makes a clearance.
Fernando Torres is caught offside. Sylvain Distin takes the indirect free kick.
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