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Football | Europa League

Lampard hints at new deal after Europa win



Frank Lampard suggested that he may be close to agreeing a new contract with Chelsea after the London club recorded a dramatic 2-1 win over Benfica in Amsterdam on Wednesday to win the Europa League.

Lampard's contract expires at the end of the campaign, but the 34-year-old has enjoyed a fine season and recently became Chelsea's all-time scorer after registering his 202nd and 203rd goals for the club.

Recent reports in the British media have suggested that he is close to extending his contract and after Branislav Ivanovic's stoppage-time goal gave Chelsea victory at Amsterdam Arena, he expressed hope that that would be the case.

"I really, really hope to be around next year," he told ITV after the game.

"With a game tonight and coming up we haven't sat down and signed anything, but I really hope so and things are looking good. The club have been brilliant."

Chelsea have endured a turbulent season, with their Champions League title defence ending in the group phase before they lost in the Club World Cup final to Corinthians.

They also fell in the semifinals in both the FA Cup and the League Cup, while interim manager Rafael Benitez has faced hostility from the club's fans ever since succeeding the sacked Roberto Di Matteo in November.

Wednesday's game was the club's 68th of the campaign and Lampard felt victory was a testament to his teammates' determination.

"It's been an amazing time for all of us involved. Talk about ups and downs in the last two years!" he said.

"But this is a big up. We're a group, a team, and it was tight tonight after the long season we've had.

"No-one deserves this more than Ivanovic – he has been fantastic. You make your own luck, and we stick together in this group. The club deserve it."

Chelsea's victory means that, until the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund on May 25, Fernando Torres will be a reigning World Cup, European Championship, Champions League and Europa League winner.

The Spaniard had put Chelsea on course for victory with a sinuous solo goal on the hour – his sixth goal of the tournament – only for Oscar Cardozo to equalise from the penalty spot in the 68th minute.

However, with extra time beckoning, Ivanovic sent a header looping over Benfica goalkeeper Artur from a Juan Mata corner to give Chelsea the trophy.

"I am very happy. It was a very tough game, and Benfica were much better in the first half," admitted Torres.

"The first half was not good enough at all. We really wanted to win this Europe League, and maybe this was going to be our only chance."

On his winning goal, Ivanovic said: "It's a great feeling for me. I think we play all season very hard and at the end of the season, we deserve it.

"This is one of the best moments in my career, to score the winning goal in a European final. It's the dream of any player. All the players, the staff and supporters deserve this trophy."

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