Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham: Lampard answers first serious questions of Stamford Bridge reign
Frank Lampard faced pressure, the first serious questions of his time as Chelsea manager and the sledgehammer subtlety of Jose Mourinho's mind games - so it was no surprise he celebrated victory over Tottenham so exuberantly.
Lampard also survived the latest VAR shambles, more of which later, to fashion a 2-1 win that restores stability to a listing Chelsea and puts them back in control of their destiny in the fight for top-four places.
The honeymoon was over for Lampard after Monday's home loss to Manchester United, their seventh at Stamford Bridge in all competitions this season, put their Champions League qualification in jeopardy and the manager's methods under scrutiny.
Lampard had dropped £71m keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for 38-year-old free transfer Willy Caballero and maintained faith with struggling Michy Batshuayi ahead of the experienced Olivier Giroud. Those are decisions of such importance that he needed better results to justify them.
Throw in Mourinho mischievously claiming in advance that he knew which system Lampard would use and the personnel involved (he was right) and this was a big day for the 41-year-old boss.
It was a day when it came down to stick or twist for this relative managerial rookie. Lampard went with the latter and won.
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In came 33-year-old Giroud, Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley and Mason Mount. And every one was a winner.
The shrewd Giroud and Alonso scored, Barkley and Mount were mobile around the striker and all four combined to perfection for the goal that settled it, Giroud, Mount and Barkley laying on the perfect invitation for Alonso's finish.
Lampard's association with Chelsea - 13 years, 11 major trophies and a record 211 goals as a player - bolted on to a transfer ban when he arrived meant this was a managerial appointment with a different feel for owner Roman Abramovich, one that suggested a little more leeway.
And while no-one would suggest for one second Lampard would be under instant threat if Chelsea failed to make the top four this season, Abramovich is not the sentimental type when it comes to taking big decisions.
This meant manager and players had to respond. They did so by producing a performance much more emphatic than the scoreline suggests.
And how sweet it looked, as a joyous Lampard saw Chelsea become the first side to defeat a team managed by Mourinho home and away in a single season.
"It always looks clever when that comes off," said Lampard of his team changes. "And you look an idiot when it doesn't.
"The last couple of days have been about us talking about it because it is no use saying we are playing well but losing - that doesn't work. It was about mentality in both boxes, being focused, and we were. The only disappointment was maybe that we didn't put it to bed earlier."
Chelsea now have a precious four-point gap to fifth, the pressure has been released and the world looks a far better place.
Not so for Mourinho, defiant afterwards but attempting to erect a shield around his team's shortcomings.
Mourinho is now in full "what can I/we do?" mode after Son Heung-min joined Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko as long-term injury absentees.
The answer is a simple one - a whole lot better than this joyless, negative, attritional performance that got exactly what it deserved.
Yes, Mourinho has injury problems but carping about how difficult the next three months will be is in danger of providing Spurs' players with a ready-made excuse for coming up short in the chase for the top four, the Champions League and the FA Cup.
Mourinho needs to ditch the defeatist stuff and get Spurs back on track because only six days earlier spirits were soaring after victory at Aston Villa.
'High farce, even by VAR's lofty standards'
Any record of this match would be incomplete without reference to an incident that constituted high farce, even by VAR's lofty standards.
Stamford Bridge has been the theatre for VAR's worst failings this week, with Manchester United's Harry Maguire lucky to escape a red card for directing his studs into Batshuayi and Kurt Zouma having a goal ruled out for a push by Cesar Azpilicueta on Brandon Williams when he had, in fact, been pushed himself by Fred.
Not a patch on what we witnessed here.
Spurs midfield man Giovani lo Celso committed a horrendous challenge on Azpilicueta which could easily have resulted in serious injury.
Everyone who saw it waited for VAR official David Coote to deliver the inevitable verdict to referee Michael Oliver - instead he came to the truly baffling conclusion that it did not require sanction. It was later explained by VAR officials that the original verdict had been mistaken and it should have been a red card.
That was something anyone watching could have told those in Stockley Park at the time. It did not need lengthy contemplation after the event to work this one out.
All it needed was for Lo Celso, who was later booked, to have snatched a late equaliser for Spurs and the VAR nonsense would have been complete.
Fortunately for all involved in this shambolic episode, he did not and this game got the winner it deserved.