August 19 (Reuters) – Chelsea manager Frank Lampard had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Leicester City in his first home match in charge on Sunday as a second-half header by Wilfred Ndidi cancelled out Mason Mount’s early goal on his home debut.
Chelsea raced into the lead when the 20 year-old Mount, one of a crop of young players given their chance by Lampard, stole the ball from a dallying Ndidi and left Kasper Schmeichel with no chance with his shot in the seventh minute.
The goal capped an opening onslaught by the new-look Blues who were roared on by the home fans excited at the return of Chelsea’s all-time top scorer Lampard as manager.
Before the match, fans in the Shed End unveiled a banner emblazoned with the huge words: “Welcome home, Super Frank” and Lampard told reporters later that it was “the stuff of dreams” to return to Stamford Bridge.
But his focus was on how Chelsea failed to maintain their early momentum against Leicester and allowed the visitors to run much of the game, something he said could only be partly blamed on his side’s tiring midweek trip to Istanbul where they lost the Super Cup final to Liverpool after extra time and penalties.
“That was the disappointing thing for me – that we couldn’t sustain the period of the early part of the game,” Lampard said.
“I don’t expect that 100-miles-an-hour energy for the 90 minutes, but I do expect that when you rest, you can keep possession of the ball better. That was the big thing for me today.”
Lampard said he took more comfort from the 4-0 defeat to Manchester United last weekend, when Chelsea played well for long periods, than he did from Sunday’s draw.
“We can do better than we did today,” he said.
In the opening minutes, Mount linked up impressively with striker Olivier Giroud, and U.S. winger Christian Pulisic, another new face at Chelsea, also went close.
But Leicester grew steadily into the game and equalised in the 67th minute when Ndidi atoned for his first-half error by heading home a James Maddison corner.
Chelsea brought on home-grown striker Tammy Abraham to try to break the deadlock but Leicester had the best chances as Maddison, Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans spurned opportunities late on.
Leicester coach Brendan Rodgers lamented the missed opportunities as his side took control of the contest.
“I think we should have won it, to be honest,” he said. “Second half, I thought we were very, very good.”