Frank Lampard has pledged his future to Chelsea for the remainder of his contract after helping them to claim a 2-1 win over Manchester City on Monday night.
Lampard’s late penalty secured the points for Andre Villas-Boas’ side, who had earlier fallen behind to Mario Balotelli’s second-minute strike before equalising through Raul Meireles.
Lampard has been in and out of the Chelsea side this season, giving way to speculation about his future, but the England international insisted he was staying at Stamford Bridge after scoring the goal that has reignited the Blues’ title hopes – with leaders City now just seven points away.
“I want to play and I’m at my best when I play, but now I’m in and out. I’m 33 – I understand that – but I want to keep playing regularly because I know I’ve got a lot to give,” Lampard told Sky Sports 1.
“I’ve got 18 months left and I’ll be here that long, and I’ll keep trying my hardest.”
Lampard stepped up to take the spot-kick, awarded for a handball against City defender Joleon Lescott in the area, and the midfielder admitted there was more relief than usual to see the ball fly into the net after a chequered recent record from 12 yards.
“I went out and missed a penalty a few weeks ago and the next one is always hard to take,” he said.
“You’ve got to be big enough and stand up and take them and they’re the moments. I was very relieved when it hit the back of the net.”
City’s night became all the harder when Gael Clichy was dismissed for a second yellow card after the break, and Lampard felt that moment was key.
“They were down to 10 men so fair play to them, but I had a feeling that it was going to be our night and it turned out that way,” he said.
“We needed to win to stay in the race. Ten points is a huge gap and luckily we’ve closed that.”