LONDON, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Frank Lampard underlined his value to Chelsea with a well-taken double that secured a 2-1 comeback win at Everton on Sunday to move the Londoners back up to third place in the Premier League.
The subject of intense speculation about his future at Stamford Bridge, midfielder Lampard reminded Chelsea's power-brokers of his class as he scored either side of halftime to cancel out Steven Pienaar's thunderbolt strike after just 63 seconds.
Chelsea's fourth successive league win under interim manager Rafael Benitez lifted them to within four points of second-placed Manchester City with a game in hand.
Manchester United are seven points clear at the top.
Lampard has made more than 500 appearances for Chelsea in 11 years but has been linked with a move away from the club when his current contract expires at the end of the season.
"We haven't been talking (about a new contract) in the last couple of weeks and I'm just concentrating on playing," Lampard told Sky Sports.
"Playing games gives me enough satisfaction, then what will be will be."
Benitez praised his side for the way they responded to conceding early on but he would not be drawn on Lampard's future.
"My job is to keep Lampard fit," he said. "He is under contract, fully committed and working hard and that is it. My job is to coach the players, and keep winning games and keep my opinion."
Lampard's performance at Goodison Park was an example of just how influential he can be.
He rose high in the box to meet a well-directed, left-footed cross from Ramires, planting the ball in the corner of Tim Howard's net to draw Chelsea level, before slamming home the winner after a goalmouth scramble with 18 minutes left on the clock.
Lampard has made popping up in the right place at the right time an art form in his time at Chelsea.
The goals against Everton were his 191st and 192nd for Chelsea, which took him to within one of Kerry Dixon, second on the club's all-time goalscoring list with 193.
Bobby Tambling, with 202, remains out in front.
While Lampard was the hero for Chelsea, Everton will lament their inability to finish off a number of opportunities.
Pienaar's goal gave the hosts a flying start and for the first 20 minutes, the Toffees bossed Chelsea and should have doubled their advantage before the half-hour mark.
A stirring Nikica Jelavic free kick was denied by the woodwork before some heroics by Chelsea stopper Petr Cech kept Leon Osman at bay.
But the reigning European champions warmed to the task and Lampard showed off all his class.
"It was very hard," he said.
"This is always one of the most difficult games of the season. We got a tanking here last year and we had to stand up for ourselves... It was always going to be very close and we did ride our luck at times.
"We have to keep believing this season - there is a long way to go. We can only win our games then rely on other things." (Writing by Tom Bartlett; editing by Toby Davis)