FRANK Lampard acknowledged “it looks good” for his chances of a new contract at Chelsea as he celebrated Europa League success last night.
The England midfielder, who last week became the club’s record goalscorer with a brace against Aston Villa, added another trophy to his extensive haul with the club as they beat Benfica 2-1 in Amsterdam.
Lampard’s contract expires this summer and speculation over his future at the club has been a constant backdrop this season. But asked whether he will remain at Stamford Bridge next season, he said last night: “I really hope so. We’re getting there, we haven’t completely sat down on it but the club have been brilliant, it looks good.”
Lampard hit the crossbar moments before defender Branislav Ivanovic headed Chelsea’s injury-time winner, Fernando Torres’ opener having been cancelled out by Oscar Cardozo’s penalty.
Lampard added: “I was just waiting for it to dip a little bit but it doesn’t matter, we’re a group. No one deserves it more than Ivanovic, he’s been fantastic.”
Matchwinner Ivanovic said Chelsea deserved to win the competition after a “difficult season”. He explained: “This team deserved this, because we have had a very difficult season and a lot of games.”
Ivanovic, suspended for the 2012 Champions League final which Chelsea won after a penalty shootout victory over Bayern Munich, continued: “In the end, today was a very hard game and Benfica played very well. But we scored from set pieces and work very hard preparing that part of our game. We deserve that trophy.
“It was a great feeling to play a final, another European final for us as a team and a great win for us. Now it is time to celebrate.”
Beaming interim manager Rafael Benitez, taking charge of the Londoners for the penultimate time before he steps down at the end of the season, praised Chelsea’s improved efforts after the break.
“That was a great performance in the second half, against a very good team. I’m really pleased for the players and everyone involved,” said Benitez, who the Champions League with Liverpool during his time in charge at Anfield. “We didn’t have the legs in the first half, so we had to adapt. They players have worked so hard, all season. I am proud – it was not easy.
“I’m really pleased, really proud.”