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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Jan 18, 2009

Lampard gives full backing to under-fire Scolari

Chelsea hero Frank Lampard insists his goal celebration was a public demonstration that the entire squad is behind under-fire coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Lampard smashed home a last-gasp winner to cap a stirring fightback by Chelsea and seal his 400th appearance for the club in amazing style.

Stoke were on the brink of a shock win at Stamford Bridge thank to Rory Delap's 59th-minute opener.

But substitute Juliano Belletti equalised in the 87th minute and Lampard completed a tremendous late comeback with the winner in the final moments of stoppage time.

The England midfielder then ran to the technical area to embrace Scolari and was soon joined by the whole team for an celebratory group hug.

"We are all behind him,'' declared Lampard. "It is difficult when people keep try to say things to split things up.

"The manager first of all is a very good man and he has been a very successful manager for a long time.

"Hopefully that success is going to come here. The last month has been difficult. We're in a moment where we make one mistake in a game and we are punished every time.

"We have had countless chances, but keepers are making amazing saves. It's one of those moments. We can only get through them together, we are all in it together and I think it showed.

"At Man United we knew we didn't play anywhere near as well as we should have done. We underperformed and everyone went to town on us. But you have to be big enough to handle things like that at Chelsea and as a group we showed a lot of spirit and with the celebrations at the end.

"We deserved to win the game (Stoke). It was another day where we dominated but couldn't score and they scored from one chance.

"You got the bad feeling that we were going to drop points again, but it was a bit different. The character and team spirit we showed shone through in the end and we got what we deserved.''

Lampard is now hoping the victory could prove to be a turning point in their season.

Chelsea are still in the title hunt but have lost Joe Cole for the rest of the campaign with knee ligament damage.

The Blues have already dropped 14 points at home and they know Stamford Bridge must become a fortress again if they are to have any chance of regaining the title.

"There are always pivotal moments in seasons where you think that changed something there and hopefully this can be that,'' said Lampard. "This could be a turning point as long as we follow through with it.

"We took a good attitude into the game, dominated in the first half and could have been 2-0 up. We showed great character at the end and that is what we have to keep on showing. Hopefully we can get out of this groove where we concede after making one mistake and be a bit more ruthless in front of goal and take our chances.

"We've lost to all the big teams, we're not happy about that but we're still in the mixer because everyone's dropping points.

"You look at Man United, they're on a great run, but winning 1-0 every week, apart from against us, and nicking results. All the teams will have ups and downs. We have had a dodgy month, but we're still in the hunt.''

Scolari insists he would vote his vice-captain as the world's best player should he ever be polled for his opinion in the future and Lampard was particularly proud to have reached the milestone of 400 appearances for the club.

"This club has become my life,'' said Lampard. "It has been eight years now and I wouldn't have believed when I came here that I would get to make 400 appearances and have the kind of success I have had here. I didn't realise I was 400 games old, I just hope I have a lot more to come.''

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