Lampard just one shy of record as Chelsea extend gap on Spurs

Tambling in the crowd to watch midfielder close on his goal mark

Chelsea’s Oscar opens the scoring in the Premier League game against Swansea at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images

Chelsea’s Oscar opens the scoring in the Premier League game against Swansea at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images


Chelsea 2 Swansea City 0: Chelsea had paraded their record goalscorer during the interval here, an emotional Bobby Tambling accepting the rapturous reception from all four sides of the ground as, wheelchair bound after four months in hospital, he sat in front of the Shed End and soaked up the scene.

By the end, the locals’ modern-day talisman stood one shy of joining the 71-year-old with a potential six games remaining of his career in these parts.

Frank Lampard had endured six weeks without a goal when, in first-half stoppage time, he thumped in a penalty to register his 201st reward for this club. The 34-year-old had sprung from the bench midway through the opening period to replace the injured Ramires and sparked a victory that has thrust Chelsea clear of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur in the pursuit of Champions League qualification. Lampard may not be around next season to enjoy that, but he will have played his part in making it happen.

The England midfielder had spoken with Tambling on the telephone during the week, the pair discussing the record that has stood since 1970 but will surely be equalled and, quite probably, eclipsed in the weeks ahead.

The home crowd had warmed to the older man’s visit, but willed their current favourite to add to his spot kick. There was a heavy touch when liberated by Juan Mata’s clever flick 10 minutes from time, and a volley from the Spaniard’s corner that was blocked, but a clear opportunity alluded him. Lampard will have to wait.

Chelsea had actually laboured for much of the first half, heaving to make inroads into the visitors’ defence and, occasionally, forced to retreat in numbers to deal with the Welsh side’s slick rat-a-tat passing exchanges when they ventured forward themselves.

Chances had been rare, the most eye-catching moves constructed by Pablo Hernandez, Michu and Wayne Routledge with Jonathan de Guzman forever in support, yet it was Lampard’s dispossession of the Dutchman five minutes from time which kick-started the hosts’ rhythm. Michel Vorm saved his shot from distance, with Gary Cahill nodding Eden Hazard’s resultant corner over the bar, but the injection of zest served a purpose. Within minutes, the contest was over.

Lampard’s penalty deep into stoppage time confirmed as much, dispatched after Mata – on his 25th birthday – had darted between Routledge and Leon Britton and tangled with the latter. Mark Clattenburg, initially booed on his return to officiate at this club for the first time since the racism storm that erupted back in October, spotted the offence with his own display here reassuringly low-profile.

The hosts’ lead had actually been chiselled out moments earlier, Vorm’s clearance collected by John Terry just inside the home half before David Luiz, Terry again and Lampard combined, the England midfielder duly slipping Oscar free to dispatch a low finish from the edge of the area across the Dutchman and into the far corner. That was the Brazilian’s 11th goal of the campaign and paved the way for Chelsea to eke clear distance from Tottenham in the table.

Guardian Service