Manchester City made Chelsea pay for a missed penalty as the Sky Blues consolidated their second place in the Premier League.
Yaya Toure’s smart curler and Tevez’s power strike was enough to secure all three points, but the outcome might have been very different had Lampard converted from 12 yards.
It means City are now seven points ahead of third-placed Chelsea, whilst the Londoners may surrender their spot if Tottenham win their game in hand.
It was a Chelsea side unrecognisable from the team that was only four points behind Manchester United when Di Matteo was relieved of his duties.
And it was a match which, on paper, Chelsea ought to have won.
The Blues have scored 38 more goals than City this season, playing nine games more, and the mid-week clash against Sparta Prague may well have pushed Chelsea too far.
Mikel, who had not started a match since Boxing Day, filled in as the holding midfielder alongside Lampard, who started as captain with Terry benched. The veteran midfielder has in fact scored 24 goals in 40 Premier League matches when starting as Chelsea captain, bt even he could not inspire anything out of his side this afternoon.
Chelsea has lost five straight games in Manchester across all competitions, and that unwanted record would continue at the Etihad Stadium. The stats continued to go against Chelsea: whilst they may have scored at least two goals in each of their last six Premier League matches, they have also conceded nine in the process.
It needed strong leadership and heroic passion, together with a considerable amount of luck, for Chelsea to get anything out of the game.
And with Kolo Toure starting with Kompany injured, the trio of Mata, Hazard and Ba ought to have been licking their lips.
Instead, it was Manchester City making a mockery of Chelsea’s lack of captain, with Nastasic having a free header on target. The defensive organisation was conspicuous by its absence, and it needed a last-ditch Cech save.
Chelsea have lost four of the last six games in which the opposition have opened the scoring, and Aguero ought to have broken the deadlock midway through the first half. The advancing Cech put an end to any chances as Aguero took it too far.
The Blues themselves have won ten of 14 occasions when taking a lead into half-time, and when Lampard lined up a free-kick from 30 yards, it looked likely. The 34-year-old, however, got it hopelessly wrong, much to David Luiz’s dismay.
Jack Rodwell was showing exactly why Mancini was right to select him as Cech had to be on top of his game, saving from the holding midfielder’s long-range effort, and then his point-blank header.
A quick succession of Chelsea free-kicks and Manchester City yellow cards ensued as the match turned physical. Andre Marriner has yellow carded five and sent off one of the Chelsea’s opposition the last five Blues’ games he has officiated, and Toure, Rodwell and Zabaleta were all booked for unsavoury challenges, with some of the cards long overdue.
The Blues do have an excellent record when Marriner is the man in the middle, having won 55% of the matches with the West Midlands man officiating, and the percentages could have gotten even better has Frank Lampard been more accurate.
Demba Ba was felled by Joe Hart, but the midfielder, normally so reliable, had clearly practiced a lot in England training sessions with Joe Hart, who did phenomenally well to stop Lampard’s well-drilled effort.
It was a sign that it was not going to be Chelsea’s day, and they were suffering the consequences moments later.
David Silva picked out Yaya Toure, who took his time in the box to side-foot into Cech’s far post. It was a glorious try that rebounded off the post and in, to send the home fans wild. Petr Cech, who is not tenth in the all-time appearances record for Chelsea, could only watch at the Ivorian’s precision.
Moses and Oscar perhaps both ought to have started, and they were introduced shortly after going behind. To the surprise of the travelling supporters, it was Hazard and Lampard making way.
Torres was brought on out of desperation for Rafael Benitez, but one became two for City. Tevez’s long-range strike five minutes from time put pay to any revival, in a match where Ashley Cole was playing his 300th Chelsea game, and Frank Lampard could have nothced up 200 Chelsea goals.
The wait, and the fight for now third place, continues.