Frank Lampard set Chelsea’s career scoring record by netting both goals in a 2-1 win at Aston Villa that virtually secured a place in the Champions League.
Lampard’s goal in the 88th minute at Villa Park gave Chelsea the come-from-behind win as both teams finished with 10 men. It was his 203rd for the west London club, moving him one ahead of Bobby Tambling.
The win keeps Chelsea in third place with 72 points, five more than Arsenal and six ahead of Tottenham, as the three teams battle for the final two qualifying places in Europe’s elite Champions League next season. Though Chelsea, which has played one game more, could finish even on points with Tottenham, its goal difference tiebraker of plus-35 is 17 more than Spurs.
Christian Benteke scored for Aston Villa, which could still finish among the bottom three in the 20-team league and be relegated to the second-tier Championship next season. Villa stays in 13th place with 40 points, five more than Wigan in the final relegation slot.
Villa went in front in the 14th minute as Benteke took a pass from Yacouba Sylla, ran past defender Gary Cahill and sent a shot between Petr Cech and the near post.
Chelsea midfielder Ramires was sent off just before halftime after picking up his second yellow card for a high-footed challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor. Benteke then received his second yellow card for a high challenge on John Terry in the 58th minute to leave each team with 10 men.
Lampard curled a shot into the top corner three minutes later to tie the game and equal Tambling’s record. The Blues almost took the lead in the 71st minute as Sylla stopped Cahill’s shot on the line and Ashley Westwood cleared it away before a sliding Demba Ba could knock it into the net.
Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan stopped David Luiz’s free kick with eight minutes left and Cech punched away Westwood’s shot.
Lampard then tapped in a pass from Eden Hazard with two minutes left to win the game and become Chelsea’s greatest goal scorer. The England midfielder ran and slid to the corner flag with his arms up in celebration before being mobbed by his teammates.
Chelsea plays Benfica in the Europa League final in Amsterdam in four days, before wrapping up the Premier League campaign at home against Everton on May 19.