A much-improved West Ham United shared a thoroughly entertaining 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw with Chelsea in Sunday's London derby at the Boleyn Ground.
Alessandro Diamanti had given the hosts the lead from the penalty spot with the clock just a minute shy of the break. Chelsea equalised through a penalty of their own, which Frank Lampard converted at the third attempt. Both teams made it an engrossing spectacle by pushing for the win, but could not find the breakthrough and had to settle for a point each.
There was a certain bite in the air as the match got underway and if Robert Green's fingers had been feeling a little numb, they were soon warmed by a rasping Lampard effort from 20 yards, which he pushed round the post. The new defensive partnership of Danny Gabbidon and the returning Matthew Upson lasted just 19 minutes as the former was forced off through injury to be replaced by James Tomkins.
For the second weekend in a row, West Ham had Scott Parker to thank for a goalline clearance after he first chested and then hacked away Branislav Ivanovic's headed effort from a corner.
Gianfranco Zola had set Guille Franco the task of leading the line on his own in a new 4-5-1 formation, and it was a responsibility the Mexican appeared to relish despite several strong tackles from his markers. After the third or fourth, referee Mike Dean had seen enough and promptly showed Ricardo Carvalho a yellow card. The Mexican was carded himself soon after a number of niggly fouls.
West Ham were awarded a penalty a minute before the break when Ashley Cole's sliding tackle halted Jack Collison's run as he latched on to Franco's through-ball. Cole was booked and Diamanti confidently sent Cech the wrong way from the spot to send the vast majority of the 33,388 crowd into wild celebrations.
There was still time for Parker to become the fourth player booked in the opening 45 minutes, but it was West Ham who went into the interval a goal to the good.
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti was clearly not pleased with what he had witnessed and used the break to make two changes, with Daniel Sturridge and John Obi Mikel introduced in place of Florent Malouda and Saloman Kalou.
Soon after, Drogba came within inches of scoring one of the goals of the season when he hit a half-volley on the turn from an acute angle but, thankfully for the hosts at least, it bounced the right side of the post.
Mark Noble had been recalled following his return from suspension to play just behind Franco, but he was in trouble with the referee too as Dean took his name for kicking the ball away.
The visitors levelled the game in somewhat controversial circumstances when they were awarded a penalty of their own 13 minutes after the interval. Upson had been adjudged to have fouled Sturridge in the area, when replays suggested he had played the ball. After two re-takes for encroachment, Lampard sent Green the wrong way to level the game.
A few chances came and went for either side - Noble firing over for the hosts before Joe Cole followed suit for the visitors. It was to be Cole's final contribution before he was subbed for Yuri Zhirkov.
In a thrilling end to the match both teams went all out for the win, with several promising counter-attacks from the Hammers failing to produce a clear-cut chance. Franco did force Cech into a point blank save but was flagged offside, while at the other end, they were grateful to their own goalkeeper as Green got a vital right-hand to push away Zhirkov's dangerous cross before the excellent Tomkins hacked the ball clear.
The result moves West Ham a point above Portsmouth, who they meet next in a mouth-watering Boxing Day match at the Boleyn Ground.