Fernando Torres scored his first Barclays Premier League goal of 2013 as Chelsea sealed third place with a victory which saw David Moyes’ 11-year reign as Everton manager end in defeat.
Scorers: Chelsea - Mata (7), Torres (76); Everton - Naismith (14)
Twelve months to the day since Chelsea’s Champions League win in Munich, Juan Mata put the hosts in front, only for Steven Naismith to swiftly equalise for the visitors.
The Europa League winners were on top in the second half and sealed victory through Torres’ first league goal since 23 December as Rafael Benitez’s seven-month spell ended with a 28th win from 48 matches.
Substitute Nikica Jelavic had three good chances for Everton, but Moyes’ men were beaten in his 518th and last game in charge before his move to Old Trafford. Victory for Chelsea ended the prospect of a play-off with Arsenal for the final automatic qualifying place for the Champions League.
The Spaniard arrived in November with Chelsea in disarray, but he has steered the Blues through the turmoil and departs with both his and the club’s reputation restored before handing over to his successor, who could yet be the returning “Special One” Jose Mourinho. Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s record goalscorer with 203 goals to his name, will also be part of the future after signing a one-year contract extension which takes his spell at Stamford Bridge into a 13th season.
The England international, who will be 35 in June, was presented with a golden boot before kick-off by the man whose 43-year-old record he surpassed, Bobby Tambling.
In a side showing two changes following Wednesday’s Europa League final win over Benfica, Nathan Ake made his first Premier League start and Demba Ba was restored in attack.
And it was Ba who had a crucial role in the opening goal, his shot being spilled by Tim Howard and Mata following up for his 20th goal of the season.
Naismith, the one change from the Everton team which featured in Moyes’ Goodison Park farewell last week as Leon Osman was ruled out with a knee injury, went close before equalising when he capitalised on a mistake by David Luiz and clipped in over the advancing Petr Cech.
The relentless pace continued, with Torres, Ake, Mata and Lampard all spurning opportunities for Chelsea and Kevin Mirallas missing for Everton before half-time.
Chelsea had the better of the early second-half skirmishes while Everton’s Jelavic, on for Naismith, headed straight at Cech before missing a great chance at the far post.
Chelsea’s second came 14 minutes from time when substitute Victor Moses cushioned a header for Torres to half-volley past Howard.
Everton, however, refused to be cowed and Jelavic had two further efforts, both saved by Cech, to level the score as Chelsea held on for victory and third place.