July 7, 2020 / 8:49 PM / a month ago

Soccer-Chelsea boss Lampard praises influential Willian

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - Willian may not be a Chelsea player next season but if Frank Lampard’s side do secure a top-four finish and qualify for the Champions League the Brazilian will have played his part.

The midfielder did not add to his goal tally in the 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, but produced another tireless display that had Lampard effusive in his praise.

“He was extremely influential,” Lampard told reporters of the 31-year-old who has scored four times since the resumption of the Premier League season and had two assists on Tuesday.

“I mean he and Christian (Pulisic) are a threat for us at the minute. When you think of Willian and his situation, the impact he is having in all the games at the minute with his speed and how he controls the ball and his quality which we all see in every game, I am so pleased with him.

“He has been brilliant for us with both of those things and Willian deserves huge credit.”

Willian’s future at Chelsea is still up in the air. His contract was up in June and not having agreed a new one he looks likely to end his seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard admitted it was a nerve-racking finale at Selhurst Park as Palace laid siege to the Chelsea goal near the end and hit the woodwork through Scott Dann. Chelsea then needed a last-ditch tackle by Kurt Zouma to deny Christian Benteke.

Goals by Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic had put Chelsea 2-0 ahead before a sensational strike by Wilfried Zaha halved the deficit. Tammy Abraham restored Chelsea’s two-goal lead but Benteke’s tap-in set up a frantic finish.

“We should have had the game done at 2-0. We should have controlled the game better and then at 3-2 we had good chances to finish off,” Lampard said.

“With some slight wrong decisions maybe in the final third or final shot, and then it invites pressure.

“Kepa (Arrizabalaga) makes a great save, Kurt makes a great tackle. But in those last moments it was nerve-racking for us.”

Victory lifted Chelsea to third above Leicester City who were in action later at Arsenal. (Reporting by Martyn Herman Editing by Toby Davis)

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