Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Pair heap praise on Lampard

Frank Lampard converted a 45th-minute penalty to move within one of the club record

Frank Lampard received praise from Rafael Benitez and Michael Laudrup after netting his 201st Chelsea goal in the 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Swansea at Stamford Bridge.

After setting up Oscar's opener, Lampard, who began the game as a substitute, converted a 45th-minute penalty to move within one of the club record held by the watching Bobby Tambling.

"Frank is a great player," Benitez said. "I'm really pleased he's scored another goal and hopefully he can score five between now and the end of the season and he'll be much happier and we will be the same."

The midfielder is 35 in June, out of contract this summer and his future is uncertain, but he continues tirelessly to work for the Chelsea cause, with the Blues' bid for a Champions League qualifying place now firmly in their own hands as they sit three points clear of Tottenham.

His appearance midway through the first half in place of dead-leg victim Ramires injected impetus into Chelsea's play. The goal was his 15th of the season and first following seven scoreless appearances, since moving to 200 goals against his former club West Ham on March 17.

Benitez added: "He's a good player with quality. When you're controlling and have more possession, he can have an influence, like today."

Swansea boss Laudrup, formerly of Real Madrid and Barcelona, had nothing but admiration for the midfielder, and he said: "When you have quality, you will always have it. The thing is, even if we don't want to admit it, we all get older.

"Sometimes the pace is not the same, you can't do exactly the same things, but the quality is always there. We know Frank Lampard, the quality he has. Always coming there, from the second line into the box, so difficult to mark. He's scored so many goals."

Lampard had dropped to the bench as Benitez manages his options with Chelsea chasing two targets and Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg with Basle in mind.

Benitez added: "He's a great professional. He's always really focused. He would like to play more games, but he understands the main thing is the team and to qualify for the Champions League. He wants to play, but he understands the team is first."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk