Benitez, Laudrup lavish praise on Lampard

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

Lampard with number 201

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 [Sunday]."

Swansea boss Laudrup, formerly of Real Madrid and Barcelona, had nothing but admiration for the midfielder.

"When you have quality, you will always have it," the Dane said.

"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."

Captain John Terry has also publicly supported Benitez's rotation, but today the defender made back-to-back appearances for the first time since February.

The 32-year-old, who has hinted at a possible England return, was beaten for pace on a couple of occasions, but Chelsea escaped with a clean sheet.

Benitez refused to be drawn on Terry coming out of the international retirement which was prompted by his Football Association charge and subsequent ban for racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand.

"That is not my business," Benitez said.

"My business is to keep him as fit as possible for every game.

"I only speak to him about Chelsea."

Benitez dismissed suggestions John Obi Mikel was kept on the bench due to another race row, with referee Mark Clattenburg taking charge of a Chelsea match for the first time since he was cleared of using "inappropriate language" towards the midfielder.

Benitez was frustrated that the official did not show Ashley Williams a second yellow card for tugging back Demba Ba during the second half today.

Benitez said: "I was not happy with one decision. That was very clear for me."

Both of Chelsea's goals came late in the first half and Laudrup attributed the extension of Swansea's winless run to six games to "five crazy minutes".

"I didn't think we suffered for the first 40 minutes," said Laudrup, who bemoaned his side's lack of cutting edge in the final third.

"Five crazy minutes, two goals, changed the game completely."

Laudrup's side beat Chelsea en route to lifting the Capital One Cup and they have one win since their Wembley triumph over Bradford at the end of February.

He added: "We've not had a very poor game since the cup.

"We've had moments where we've not played well, but even today, you can't say we played poorly after 60 minutes.

"We just had those crazy five minutes."

Lampard and Tambling met following the match, accompanied by their families.

Lampard was pleased Tambling, who appeared in a wheelchair as Chelsea's half-time guest, was present for the goal as he edged towards the record.

Lampard said: "I'm glad he was healthy enough to be here and it was nice to see him. There could not be more of a gentleman to hold that record. It would have been great to [match the record] in front of him but it doesn't work that way.

"I try for it not to be on my mind because people are talking about it. If I am confident and playing regularly and training hard the goals will come."



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