‘I am pleased for the players and for everybody involved’ - Benitez
Jubilant Lampard expects new Chelsea contract
Chelsea’s Frank Lampard and interim manager Rafael Benitez after their Europa League Final win in Amsterdam. Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire.
Frank Lampard acknowledged “it looks good” for his chances of a new contract at Chelsea as he celebrated Europa League success tonight.
The England midfielder, who last week became the club’s record goalscorer with a brace against Aston Villa, added another trophy to his extensive haul with the club as they beat Benfica 2-1 in Amsterdam tonight.
Lampard’s contract expires this summer and speculation over his future at the club has been a constant backdrop this season. But asked whether he will remain at Stamford Bridge next season, he told ITV Sport: “I really hope so. We’re getting there, we haven’t completely sat down on it but the club have been brilliant, it looks good.”
Lampard hit the crossbar moments before defender Branislav Ivanovic headed Chelsea’s injury-time winner, Fernando Torres’ opener having been cancelled out by Oscar Cardozo’s penalty.
“No one deserves it more than Ivanovic,” Lampard said, “he’s been fantastic.”
Ivanovic, who missed last season’s Champions League final due to suspension, said: “It’s a great feeling to play in the final. Benfica played very well but in the end we scored from set-pieces. Now it’s time to celebrate. These supporters and this team deserve to win a trophy this season.”
Interim manager Rafael Benitez is surely also worthy of the accolade and he was a proud man after ending his tumultuous tenure with continental success.
The Spaniard has been subjected to verbal abuse by the club’s own fans since replacing Roberto Di Matteo early in the season, due to unhappiness over both his predecessor’s sacking and Benitez’s comments about the Blues during his time as Liverpool manager.
“I’m proud,” he said. “It was not easy, we have been talking about this all the time so I am really pleased, really proud. It was a great performance in the second half. We had some problems in the first half against a very good team but I am pleased for the players and for everybody involved. They deserved it because they worked hard the whole season.”
Torres also praised Benfica’s first-half display but was delighted his side were able to emerge victorious.
“It was a very tough game, maybe Benfica deserved a little more,” he said. “They were much better in the first half but individual quality made the difference. It was the final, maybe the only chance we had to win the Europa League, and we won it.”