Lampard wants to land knockout blow on Shakhtar
FRANK LAMPARD urged Chelsea to try to seal their place in the Champions League knockout phase with two games to spare after helping them beat Nordsjaelland and take control of Group E.
The European champions left it late to put their Danish counterparts to the sword in Copenhagen on Tuesday night, scoring three times in the final 11 minutes of a flattering 4-0 win.
The final flourish was enough to lift them above Shakhtar Donetsk on goal difference ahead of their upcoming double-header against the Ukrainian title-winners.
Back-to-back victories could cement Chelsea’s qualification for the last-16 and maintain their record of having never failed to get out of their group.
And Lampard, who returned to captain Chelsea on Tuesday after failing to start any of the previous three matches, said: “It is important now that, our next couple of games, we try and get wins again and then we will have that foot into the next stage.”
Chelsea may not have been in a position to do that had they tossed away another lead in a Champions League match on Tuesday night, something they threatened to do at the Parken Stadium.
Roberto Di Matteo’s side blew a two-goal advantage against Juventus, while last season saw them score first in all of their opening four away matches but fail to win any of them.
Lampard added: “It was very important to win this considering we drew our first game. What happened last year shows how tough it is to win away. We didn’t win away in the group stages last season but we went on to win the competition. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat.”
The 34-year-old admitted the way Chelsea became “lax” after Juan Mata put them ahead was a concern. “A little bit, but I think it is always hard to dominate a Champions League game away from home from start to finish,” he said.
“We played Genk last year and drew 1-1, a team not so fancied in the big picture but they can be tough games. I don’t think they will give Juventus and Shakthar easy games either.”
Lampard did not discuss his own recent omission from Chelsea’s team, in stark contrast to a year earlier when being left out by previous boss Andre Villas-Boas saw the first cracks emerge in the pair’s relationship.
Di Matteo appears to have handled the situation far more diplomatically than his predecessor.