Chelsea's Frank Lampard reacts after scoring against Manchester City during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, Sunday Sept. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Chelsea's Andre Schuerrle celebrates after scoring against Manchester City during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, Sunday Sept. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
MANCHESTER, England — Frank Lampard made Chelsea pay for releasing him this summer after 13 years, scoring a trademark equalizer against his former club for Manchester City in a 1-1 draw between the two biggest contenders for the Premier League title on Sunday.
Chelsea's four-match winning run to open the season was ended by its all-time record scorer, with Lampard arriving late in the box — as he did so often at Stamford Bridge — to sidefoot home in the 85th minute.
Applauded on and off the pitch by Chelsea's traveling support, Lampard — keeping his head down — held his arm out in an attempt to hold off the advances of his joyous teammates and didn't celebrate his first goal for City.
"It's not how I expected to say goodbye to the Chelsea fans," said Lampard, who is on loan at City until January from New York City. He described his reunion with Chelsea, for which he scored 211 goals, as "special and weird."
Chelsea missed a great opportunity to open up an eight-point cushion on City, relinquishing a lead given to the visitors by substitute Andre Schuerrle in the 71st after his far-post tap-in from Eden Hazard's cross.
City was down to 10 men by that stage after right back Pablo Zabaleta was given a second yellow card in the 66th for a lunge at Diego Costa, but still finished the stronger and was rewarded by the late intervention from substitute Lampard.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini described Chelsea as a "small club" after the match for what he perceived to be its defensive tactics. He compared them to those adopted by Stoke, which beat City 1-0 in its last home game.
"Today was (our) best game of the season, with the character to play against a big team with very good players that were just defending," Pellegrini said.
Dropping points for the first time this season, Chelsea still ended the weekend with a three-point lead over Southampton and its hardest match out of the way.
Chelsea did the double over City last season, with its win at Etihad Stadium in February widely hailed as a tactical clinic from Jose Mourinho. And the Portuguese coach was happy to ditch the flamboyance that had helped his team claim four straight wins.
It made for a tense, edgy and physical battle that was dominated by defenses, with Eliaquim Mangala enjoying a strong starting debut for City after his big-money summer move from Porto.
Neither goalkeeper was seriously tested until Thibaut Courtois saved from City striker Sergio Aguero early in the second half, with Edin Dzeko denied on the rebound by a lunging tackle from Ramires.
The game turned on Zabaleta's sending-off — the Argentina defender apologized on Twitter afterward — and Diego Costa led a counterattack that ended with Hazard crossing from the right for Schuerrle to tap in unmarked.
Cheered throughout by Chelsea's fans, Lampard had the last say by running onto a knockdown from the indefatiguable James Milner and slotting a shot under old friend John Terry and in at the near post.
"I feel that when a player leaves another club and plays for a direct opponent, he is not going there for a holiday, he is going there to try and beat his club - the one everyone considers the club of his heart, but not anymore," Mourinho said.
"While at City, he wants to beat Chelsea. That is the nature of football."