Chelsea's Frank Lampard (centre) reacts after their English Premier League soccer match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool.Photo by Reuters
Frank Lampard underlined his value to Chelsea with a
well-taken double to secure a 2-1 comeback win at Everton and
Liverpool heaped more misery on Premier League strugglers
Queens Park Rangers.
The subject of intense speculation about his future at
Stamford Bridge, midfielder Lampard reminded Chelsea's
power-brokers of his class by scoring either side of halftime
to cancel out Steven Pienaar's powerful strike after 63
Chelsea's fourth successive league win under interim manager
Rafael Benitez lifted the Londoners back up to third in the
Premier League, four points behind second-placed Manchester
City with a game in hand.
Manchester United are seven points clear at the top and QPR's
3-0 home loss to Liverpool left them three points adrift at
Lampard has made more than 500 appearances for Chelsea in 11
years but has been linked with a move away from the club when
his contract expires at the end of the season.
"We haven't been talking (about a new contract) in the last
couple of weeks and I'm just concentrating on playing,"
Lampard told Sky Sports.
"Playing games gives me enough satisfaction, then what will
be will be."
Benitez praised his side for the way they responded to
conceding early on but he would not be drawn on Lampard's
"My job is to keep Lampard fit," he said. "He is under
contract, fully committed and working hard and that is it. My
job is to coach the players, and keep winning games and keep
Lampard's performance at Goodison Park was an example of just
how influential he can be.
He rose in the box to meet a well-directed, left-footed cross
from Ramires, planting the ball in the corner of Tim Howard's
net to draw Chelsea level, before slamming home the winner
after a goalmouth scramble with 18 minutes left.
Lampard has made popping up in the right place at the right
time an art form in his time at Chelsea.
The goals against Everton were his 191st and 192nd for
Chelsea, which took him to within one of Kerry Dixon, second
on the club's all-time goalscoring list with 193.
Bobby Tambling, with 202, remains out in front.
While Lampard was the hero for Chelsea, Everton will lament
their inability to finish off a number of opportunities.
Pienaar's goal gave the hosts a flying start and for the
first 20 minutes, the Toffees bossed Chelsea and should have
doubled their advantage.
A stirring Nikica Jelavic free kick struck the woodwork and
Chelsea keeper Petr Cech kept out an effort by Leon Osman.
But the European champions warmed to the task and Lampard
showed off all his class.
"It was very hard," he said.
"This is always one of the most difficult games of the
season. We got a tanking here last year and we had to stand
up for ourselves... It was always going to be very close and
we did ride our luck at times.
"We have to keep believing this season - there is a long way
to go. We can only win our games then rely on other things."
Liverpool are not involved in the title race but they showed
in 30 minutes at Loftus Road how good they can be despite
their mid-table position.
They raced into a 3-0 lead primarily thanks to the brilliance
of striker Luis Suarez, who weaved through some feeble
defence for his opening goal before adding a second after 16
Defender Daniel Agger's powerful header from a Steven Gerrard
cross effectively ended the contest before halftime, leading
to some sections of the crowd booing the QPR players as they
left the pitch.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was unable to take his
place on the sidelines due to illness and his opposite Harry
Redknapp was unable to inspire a dramatic comeback like the
one QPR produced in the corresponding fixture last season
when late goals carried them to victory.
Liverpool's level dropped off as the game wore on and they
were unable to add to their dominance but the hosts offered
little in attack and the result was never in doubt as
Liverpool climbed to ninth in the table.