Chelsea inflicted a first league defeat of the season on Premier League leaders Manchester City after substitute Frank Lampard secured a 2-1 victory from the penalty spot at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Lampard’s 83rd minute effort completed a comeback that began when Raul Meireles canceled out Mario Balotelli’s second minute opener and revived the Londoners’ title hopes.
Victory moved Chelsea up to third, seven points adrift of City, who were reduced to 10 men following the 58th minute dismissal of Gael Clichy.
The win was Chelsea’s third in succession during a nine-day period in which Andre Villas-Boas’ side have also secured a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League to ease the growing pressure on their young manager.
However, for City, knocked out of the Champions League, they passed up the chance to move five points clear of second placed reigning champions Manchester United.
The game started brightly enough for the visitors with Balotelli shrugging off his latest controversy — he was photographed in a restaurant 48 hours previously in breach of a club curfew — to fire them into an early lead.
Sergio Aguero turned John Terry and sent Balotelli free on goal.
However, the Italian still had plenty to do after being allowed to advance between Branislav Ivanovic and Jose Bosingwa, but he kept his composure to round goalkeeper Petr Cech and roll the ball into the net.
Chelsea were stunned and for 20 minutes had no answer to a seemingly stronger, quicker and more inventive City.
With Aguero and Balotelli continually stretching the Chelsea back line and David Silva proving elusive in the area behind the front pair, Roberto Mancini’s side looked capable of quickly establishing complete control of the game.
That might well have been the case had referee Mark Clattenburg awarded a penalty when Bosingwa appeared to trip Silva in the 14th minute.
Slowly, though, Chelsea began to assert themselves and began to press forward with Didier Drogba’s 24th minute shot a reminder of their threat.
And the hosts were rewarded for their improved efforts 10 minutes later when Meireles leveled after good work by Daniel Sturridge, the former City player and Chelsea’s star man on the night.
Blues captain Terry found Sturridge with a fine cross-field ball and the forward turned Clichy inside out before picking out Meireles, who volleyed past Joe Hart from 12 yards in the 34th minute.
City suddenly appeared much less composed and Vincent Kompany’s clumsy bodycheck to halt Drobga brought a yellow card.
Chelsea maintained their momentum immediately after the break with Sturridge firing over after collecting Juan Mata’s free-kick when he should at least have hit the target.
And the shift in the balance of the game grew even more pronounced in the 58th minute when Clichy — booked 10 minutes earlier for a foul on Sturridge — upended Ramires to earn a second yellow card that saw him sent off.
Mancini declared his intention to settle for a point by withdrawing Aguero and Silva.
However, the plan to shore up his midfield and defense backfired when Sturridge again worked an opening on the right hand side of the box, cutting inside and firing a left foot shot that was blocked by Joleon Lescott’s arm.
And Lampard, 10 minutes after coming off the bench, fired past Hart to complete the turnaround.