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Apr 28, 2013

Blues boost CL hopes with Swansea win

Frank Lampard scored his 201st Chelsea goal as the Blues moved closer to a return to the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Swansea at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard, who began the game as a substitute, set up Oscar's opener before converting a 45th-minute penalty to move him within one goal of the club record held by the watching Bobby Tambling.

Last season's European champion was unable to add to its total in the second half as Rafael Benitez's side moved three points clear of rival Tottenham in the battle for a place in the Barclays Premier League top four and extended Swansea's winless run to six games.

Chelsea's next Premier League clash comes at Manchester United before the London derby with Spurs on May 8 which could prove decisive in the Champions League qualifying race.

For now, Chelsea stayed on course to achieve its two remaining targets this term and it will seek to confirm its place in the Europa League final in Thursday's semifinal second leg with Basel.

Victory in Amsterdam on May 15 would provide a fitting finale for Lampard if he does leave Chelsea this summer at the end of his current contract.

The midfielder is 35 in June and his future is uncertain, but he continues to work tirelessly for the Chelsea cause.

His appearance midway through the first half in place of the injured Ramires injected impetus into Chelsea's play.

The goal was his 15th of the season and first following seven scoreless appearances, since moving to 200 goals against his former club West Ham on March 17.

Much of the performance was about Chelsea's old guard as the Blues extended their unbeaten home run to 12 games.

Captain John Terry, who has hinted at a possible England return, was selected to start back-to-back matches for the first time since February and performed well in defense alongside Gary Cahill, who was playing following a knee injury sustained against the Hammers.

John Obi Mikel was not one of the four changes from Switzerland.

The midfielder was left on the substitutes' bench as referee Mark Clattenburg took charge of a Chelsea match for the first time since he was cleared of using "inappropriate language" towards Mikel in October.

Chelsea's most recent home defeat came on Jan. 9 against Swansea in the Capital One Cup semifinal in a competition which saw the Blues' exit embarrassingly when Eden Hazard was sent off and banned for kicking a ball boy.

The Belgian had the game's first shot, which Michel Vorm held comfortably, before the Swansea goalkeeper blocked a swerving Demba Ba effort from 25 yards.

Swansea had to scramble clear as Oscar and Ba had efforts blocked following Lampard's introduction for Ramires, whose thigh was strapped.

Lampard shot over before Ashley Williams was booked for hauling down Oscar.

David Luiz's presence in midfield allowed Lampard to push forward from deep and the England international fired in a 25-yard shot which Vorm turned around the post.

The hosts' opener came after Terry intercepted a long ball forward before striding purposefully into midfield. He fed Lampard, who in turn found Oscar, and the Brazil forward drilled a shot across goal inside the far post.

Chelsea doubled their advantage before the interval after Juan Mata combined with Hazard before being pulled down by Leon Britton.

Lampard fired the ball low into the right corner and immediately Stamford Bridge erupted into chants of "sign him up".

Tambling was introduced on the pitch at half-time and saw Chelsea begin the second half well.

There were also a few moments of worry when Michu and Wayne Routledge escaped the attentions of Terry, only for the hosts to survive.

A late lunge on Ben Davies saw Cesar Azpilicueta spoken to by Clattenburg and the right-back was perhaps fortunate only to see a yellow card.

Chelsea continued to press forward and Vorm superbly saved down to his right when Ba unleashed a shot at the end of a flowing Chelsea counter-attack.

Another hairy moment came for the Blues when Lampard's pass towards Terry was intercepted by Jonathan de Guzman, but the Swansea man could not take advantage and the Chelsea skipper recovered to sweep up.

Mata came close to a goal on his 25th birthday but his shot across goal went narrowly wide and was just out of the reach of Ba's outstretched leg.

Lampard could not control a bouncing ball in the area and Ba shot straight at Vorm as he chased down Petr Cech's long kick.

But Chelsea had to be content with two goals, a clean sheet and Lampard edging closer to the record.

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