Rafael Benitez praised the team and Frank Lampard’s individual achievement as Chelsea moved back into third spot in the league table with a 2-0 home win over West Ham.
As in the December meeting between these sides, the Blues impressed with a fluid first-half display and led 1-0 at the break, Lampard having headed a milestone 200th goal for his current club, against his former one too, but in contrast to that meeting the domination of the opposition continued in the second half with the exceptional Eden Hazard scoring the second goal.
With Tottenham and Manchester City both losing this weekend, we cut the gap to second place to four points and moved one point ahead of Spurs with a game in hand.
‘The team was doing well from the beginning of the week and today we could keep the momentum and play well,’ said Benitez.
‘We played attacking football, created chances, and it was a pity we couldn’t score even more goals, but I am really pleased with the atmosphere and I am really pleased with the performance of the team.
‘I am really pleased because we kept another clean sheet and we are even happier because Frank has scored 200 goals. It is a fantastic achievement for any player but especially for a midfielder.
‘He is a fantastic player and in training he is always working hard. We have a lot of games still to play and so hopefully he can score more goals.
‘I am not taking any credit away from Frank because it is a fantastic achievement and I am really pleased for him, but I will give credit to the rest of the team too because they allow him to go forward and still we keep the balance of the team, and a top side has to have that.’
On Eden Hazard’s recent run of scintillating form which continued today with an assist for Lampard as well as the goal of his own…
‘We didn’t have any doubt about the quality of Eden,’ said Benitez. ‘It is a case of finding the link with the other players – Mata, Moses, Ba, Oscar, Torres – when they are on the pitch and then he can make the difference in attack.’
Demba Ba was not able to find the West Ham net despite several scoring opportunities. Benitez had words of support…
‘Normally in the training sessions he is a great finisher so when he has these chances normally he will score, but we have to give credit to the West Ham keeper because two or three good saves made the difference.’
After an intense period of Chelsea games there is now a fortnight break before a crowded Easter for the Blues. The majority of the squad remain in action for their nations…
‘The good thing is we have played three really good games but the bad thing is we have the international break now,’ said the manager. ‘But hopefully they will mentally relax in the changed environment and they will come back with the same fresh mind and the same fresh legs.’