LONDON: Frank Lampard issued another contract reminder to Roman Abramovich as Chelsea eased the pressure on boss Rafael Benitez with a 4-1 win over Wigan at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard scored his 198th career goal for the Blues in the 86th minute after the visitors had briefly threatened to add to the controversy surrounding Benitez.
Ramires put Chelsea in front in the 23rd minute and Eden Hazard returned from his ballboy suspension when he struck a low right-foot shot to increase the home side’s lead after 56 minutes.
Wigan reduced the deficit through Shaun Maloney on 58 minutes but Lampard put Chelsea back in control and late substitute Marko Marin headed his first goal for the club in stoppage time.
Victory did not improve Chelsea fans’ opinion of Benitez. They sang: “We’re ‘gonna’ have a party when Rafa gets the sack.”
The result lifted Chelsea back to third after Tottenham had earlier replaced them with a 2-1 victory over Newcastle at White Hart Lane.
Gareth Bale beat Tim Krul with a 25-yard free-kick to open the scoring for the Londoners and sealed the win with a superb break-away goal.
Newcastle, inbetween, levelled briefly through Yoan Gouffran who was later carried off with a leg injury.
All hail, Bale
Gareth Bale was hailed as a world-class talent after the game by manager Andre Villas-Boas. Amid fears that the Welshman will head for Spain at the season’s end, AVB said: “Barcelona losing Messi would be a disaster; Real Madrid losing Ronaldo would be a disaster. So this would be exactly the same for us.”
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny produced some late heroics as the 10-man Gunners were forced to cling on for a 1-0 win at Sunderland. Arsene Wenger’s men played the last half-hour with 10 men after Carl Jenkinson’s sending-off for a second bookable offence.
Santi Cazorla made the decisive breakthrough in the 35th minute with a low shot past Simon Mignolet, who had earlier saved well from Aaron Ramsey.
Theo Walcott hit the post early in the second half but Sunderland finished in style with both Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson denied late on by superb saves from Szczesny.
Bottom club Queens Park Rangers sunk closer to relegation after a 4-1 defeat at Swansea. Michu set the Swans on their way to victory with his eighth minute opener and Angel Rangel increased the home side’s lead from close-range in the 18th minute.
Despite substitute Bobby Zamora briefly reducing the deficit, Pablo Hernandez restored Swansea’s two-goal cushion on 50 minutes before Michu slid home his 15th league goal of the season. Michu’s first goals in seven league games means Fernando Torres is the only Spaniard to have scored more in a Premier League season.
Robert Huth headed his first goal since April last year in the 67th minute to send Stoke on their way to a 2-1 home win over relegation-threatened Reading.
Cameron Jerome fired the Potters’ second nine minutes from time with Adrian Mariappa scoring a late consolation for the Royals.
Norwich stretched their winless Premier League streak to nine games after a 0-0 draw with Fulham which meant Martin Jol’s Cottagers have won only two of their last 10 games.
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