CHELSEA 2 vs SWANSEA 0
CHELSEA manager Rafael Benitez hailed Frank Lampard’s professionalism after the midfielder came off the bench to score his first goal in eight games and move to within one strike of matching Bobby Tambling’s all-time goalscoring record.
The 34-year-old has grown frustrated having started one of Chelsea’s last six matches, but replaced the injured Ramires midway through the first half and scored on the stroke of half-time.
And Benitez is delighted Lampard continues to give his all for the team, in spite of apparent dissatisfaction at his current role.
“He would like to start more games but he realises the main thing is the team and to qualify for the Champions League. He understands the team is first,” said Benitez. “I’m really pleased because he’s scored another goal. Hopefully he can score five before the end of the season and he will be much happier.”
Defeat for Swansea extended their winless run to six matches.
Chelsea, meanwhile, took full advantage of rivals Arsenal and Tottenham dropping points to climb up to third in the Premier League, as the race to finish in the top four took yet another twist.
The Blues were largely untested in the first half and Oscar broke the deadlock on 43 minutes.
A one-touch passing move between captain John Terry and Lampard set up the Brazilian midfielder to fire a low, angled shot across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
In first half stoppage time referee Mark Clattenburg, back at Stamford Bridge for the first time since being cleared of using “inappropriate language” towards midfielder John Obi Mikel in October, pointed to the penalty spot after Leon Britton blocked the run of Juan Mata.
Lampard stroked the ball in from 12 yards for his 201st Chelsea goal, as Tambling, who hit 202 goals in his career at Stamford Bridge, looked on from the stands.
RACE FOR EUROPE
Chelsea – third
■ With a three-point gap to Spurs even defeat for the Blues against Andre Villas-Boas’s team on 8 May will not stop them finishing in the top four, provided they win their other three remaining matches
Arsenal – fourth
■ Having played a game more than both Chelsea and Spurs, Arsenal are likely to need maximum points from their final three games
Tottenham – fifth
■ A top four finish is still in Tottenham’s hands, but they will need to win at Chelsea or hope north London rivals Arsenal slip up