Chelsea had paraded their record goalscorer during the interval here, an emotional Bobby Tambling accepting the rapturous reception from all sides as, wheelchair bound after four months in hospital, he sat in front of the Shed End and soaked up the applause through his tears. The locals revelled in his presence even if, by the final whistle, it was this club's present day talisman who was drawing the acclaim, with Frank Lampard now one goal shy of equalling Tambling's tally as time ticks down on his own career in these parts.
The midfielder will be aware opportunities are running out, and there had been a flash of relief in his celebration deep into first-half stoppage time as the net bulged from goal No201 in Chelsea colours. It had been six weeks since he registered his double-century, an untimely seven-match barren spell amid all the squad rotation and clamour for the 34-year-old to be offered a contract extension, but the goals have returned. The penalty dispatched low into the corner beyond Michel Vorm secured this victory but it had been Lampard's introduction as a substitute that had sparked the win.
It was his dispossession of Jonathan de Guzman and dart into enemy territory to force Vorm into a save at full-stretch that had shrugged the home side out of their lethargy. His slipped pass to Oscar, three minutes later, provided the opening goal, and it was his assured finish from the spot that settled affairs to thrust the home side a point clear of Arsenal and three of Tottenham Hotspur in the race for Champions League qualification. Lampard may not be around next season to enjoy that, but he will have played his part in making it happen. "He's a great player, a great professional," said Rafael Benítez. "He wants to play but he understands the priorities and the club comes first."
There is still time – potentially six games – to equal and eclipse Tambling's 43-year record, though the latter stages here were played out with the home support bellowing for the midfielder to do so in the holder's presence. There was a heavy touch when liberated by Juan Mata's clever flick 10 minutes from time, and a volley from the Spaniard's corner that was blocked in a cluttered penalty area, but a clear chance alluded him. Lampard will have to wait.
He shared a joke with Tambling in the home dressing room in the aftermath, the pair having spoken on the telephone last week after the 71-year-old departed hospital in Cork where he had been suffering from pneumonia and Martorelli's Ulcer, a painful disease involving leg ulcerations.
"Bobby is an absolute gentleman and I'm glad he was healthy enough to be here," Lampard said. "It was nice to see him. I'd have liked [the second] to come, and it would've been great to do it in front of him, but it doesn't work that way. If I'm confident and playing regularly and training hard the goals will come if I can keep my head." The older man will not begrudge surrendering his record.
Lampard had benefited from the spritely running of Mata, on his 25th birthday, and the outstanding Eden Hazard to orchestrate this victory. The Belgian was irrepressible, the Spaniard as classy and composed as ever, even if Swansea dazzled themselves at times with the trademark, slick approach play that has decorated the Premier League all season. What they lacked was precisely what Lampard supplied: a clinical final pass, such as that to send Oscar scurrying through on goal, or an accurate finish when an opportunity arrived.
"We all get older, and sometimes the pace is not the same, but quality is quality," said Michael Laudrup, who had retired himself at 34. "He's still coming into the box, as he's always done, and finding positions to cause problems. Great players don't like to run."
Praise means plenty when delivered by the Dane. He was left bemoaning the "five crazy minutes" before the break that yielded the game's decisive moments. First John Terry had collected Vorm's clearance and combined with David Luiz and then Lampard, the England midfielder eventually clipping Oscar free to score across Vorm into the far corner. That was his 11th goal of the campaign, with Leon Britton's tangle with Mata as the midfielder wriggled into the area duly supplying a second. Mark Clattenburg, initially booed on his return to officiate at this club for the first time since the racism storm that erupted in October, spotted the offence in what was a low-profile display. Ashley Williams might have been dismissed for two bookable offences, while César Azpilicueta was wild with one lunge on Ben Davies, but the referee appeared keen to remain out of the spotlight.
Swansea, for all their eagerness in possession, rarely threatened a riposte thereafter as their winless run stretched to six league games even if they continue to hover in the top half of the table. Chelsea's ambitions are loftier and, in third with a considerably better goal difference than Spurs, they have enjoyed a fruitful week. A place in the Europa League final can be secured on Thursday, with a trip to Old Trafford to follow. Lampard's chance will come.
Man of the match Eden Hazard (Chelsea)