It is a rare occurrence indeed for the scorer of a crucial late equaliser to be applauded off the field by fans of the team he has just frustrated. That, however, is precisely what happened when Frank Lampard grabbed his first goal in a Manchester City FC shirt to rescue a 1-1 draw with former club Chelsea FC – the side he left in the summer after 13 years of sterling service.
A Stamford Bridge great, having become the club's all-time leading scorer, Lampard's six Premier League goals last season looked to be his last when he left English shores for New York City FC in the summer. Instead, he promptly agreed a loan move to City and added to his top-flight tally by coming off the bench to earn the champions a 1-1 home draw courtesy of an 85th-minute strike.
Afterwards, the former England international admitted to conflicting feelings – which were echoed by his ex-manager José Mourinho and the supporters who spent over a decade cheering his name. "It's a special and weird day," explained the 36-year-old, having ended Chelsea's perfect start to the campaign with his first effort for the Citizens.
"I know the 13 years I spent at Chelsea and there were no bad feelings, so I hoped for a good reception. It was a difficult day for me at the end because what do you do? You're caught in the middle. It was a strange week. I knew I wouldn't start and didn't know what to expect. A draw keeps the Premier League close and
I got a reception from both sets of fans that I won't forget."
Despite a close affinity with his former charge, Mourinho knew better than to expect any favours from Lampard, a consummate professional despite his enduring affection for Chelsea. "
When a player leaves 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," said the Portuguese manager. "While at City, he wants to beat Chelsea. That is the nature of football."
City boss Manuel Pellegrini also hailed the veteran midfielder, whom he had no hesitation in bringing on board after watching him from afar last term. "I was sure that if Frank Lampard played he would score; things like that happen in football," said Pellegrini. "He will be a very important player for us. From the beginning, he has been involved 100% every day. I think that maybe he was not happy to score against such an important team for him. But he is very professional."
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