What more has Frank Lampard got to do to clinch another contract from Chelsea? With three minutes remaining and Chelsea hanging on to a slender 2-1 lead, ‘Super Frank’ rifled home another vital goal after Juan Mata had dummied Eden Hazard’s cross. That effectively secured the points to take Chelsea back to third in the table and ease the immediate threat to Rafa Benitez’s job (for a while!!).
It was goal number 198 for Lampard in his Chelsea career – now just four behind Bobby Tambling’s record. In added time, substitute Marko Marin headed his first goal for the club following strikes from Ramires and Belgian Hazard. But earlier, Chelsea were struggling when Wigan pulled back a goal through Shaun Maloney and the Latics had a strong case for a penalty turned down when Ashley Cole handled Ronnie Stam’s drive. Benitez again wouldn’t be drawn on Lampard’s future after the England midfielder’s ninth goal in his last 12 matches for club and country.
The Bridge crowd chanted “sign him up” but Benitez concentrated on Lampard’s chances of becoming the club’s record scorer. He said: “Lampard is fit with a good understanding of the game and if he gets the goals to beat the record, we will be really pleased.”
And on his own position, Benitez added: “There has been speculation but no-one has spoken to the owner. “It’s my job and I have to win games. I have experience of winning things and I am confident we will finish in the top four.” Chelsea were under pressure as they went into the match and that situation could quickly have become even greater.
Twice in the space of a minute, Wigan were denied an early goal by Chelsea keeper Petr Cech. In the sixth minute he kept out former Chelsea striker Franco Di Santo’s right-foot drive with his legs. Then within seconds, Cech had to fling himself to his right to push aside Shaun Maloney’s curling effort. With the familiar chants for sacked former Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo growing louder, it was Fernando Torres who sparked Chelsea into life, amazingly!! There were some boos from the home supporters when his name was announced before the kick-off, possibly because of his links with Benitez, perhaps because he was picked ahead of Demba Ba.
But Torres glanced a header inches wide from Lampard’s free-kick, then shot straight at Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi. And just as the anti-Benitez chants were starting up, Torres helped set up Chelsea’s breakthrough goal in the 23rd minute. Torres rolled a David Luiz pass into the path of Ramires, who ran on strongly before finishing well with a right-foot with a typical striker’ strike.
It could have been 2-0 ten minutes later, this time when the Chelsea chanters were calling for Jose Mourinho’s return.Cesar Azpilicueta, who won his first full cap for Spain a few days earlier, crossed superbly from the one-two with Ramires but Torres’ header was turned over by Al Habsi. Oscar shot over from a promising position on the stroke of half-time but only after Azpilicueta had rescued Chelsea with a vital header at the expense of a corner. Chelsea, though, regularly threatened to score and increased their lead in the 56th minute.
Gary Cahill’s quickly-taken free-kick found Azpilicueta, who superbly set up Hazard for a right-foot finish and his ninth goal of the season. But Chelsea seem to like to make life difficult for themselves at the moment and two minutes later, Maloney beat Cech to James McArthur’s pass and neatly slotted the ball home with the keeper stranded. Lampard made it safe for Chelsea in the 86th minute before Marin wrapped it up at the death.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez felt his team could have had a penalty at 2-1.Martinez said: “It was a difficult decision for the referee but Cole blocked Stam’s on-target shot with an outstretched arm. “It’s a question of interpretation but to remove any doubt the arm should be attached to the body.”
- Chelsea 4 Wigan 1 (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
- Chelsea 4-1 Wigan: Lampard and Marin wrap up comfortable Blues win (goal.com)
- Lampard closes on record as Chelsea get back on track (thehimalayantimes.com)
- Chelsea 4 Wigan Athletic 1: match report (telegraph.co.uk)
- Chelsea vs. Wigan: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction (bleacherreport.com)