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Chelsea 2-0 Wolves: Mason Mount inspired Blues secure fourth place, Wolves fall out of European spot

No expletives or explosive touchline rants necessary from Frank Lampard. Just pure elation.

Chelsea will play Champions League football next season, this triumph over Wolves seeing to that.

It was fitting that one of their own, Mason Mount, engineered this most crucial of victories. 

In the season Chelsea’s academy finally showed its worth; it was arguably their brightest talent of all that pushed them over the line.

Lampard, in his understated style, adorned his players with all the credit. They, of course, deserve high praise.

But Lampard, while he may not admit it, is the true architect of Chelsea’s top-four finish.

Not many gave Chelsea a hope of this back in August. The scepticism was logical: a transfer ban, an inexperienced manager about to take his first season in the Premier League and a team flooded with unproven youngsters isn’t necessarily a recipe for success. 

Lampard and his fledgling stars have proved their doubters wrong.

‘I’m very pleased but I don’t want to sing my own praises,’ said Lampard.

‘It’s the players and it’s always a team effort. I’m proud. But I put that in small brackets because we want to challenge for titles at this club.’

Of course, with Champions League football comes vast riches. Having already signed Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner – who was at Stamford Bridge yesterday – for a combined fee of close to £90million, Chelsea intend to spend more ahead of next season, their qualification for the Champions League providing licence to execute those plans.

Kai Havertz is expected to arrive from Bayer Leverkusen, while Lampard fancies Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell. 

You hope, however, that any splurge will not restrict the progress of Mount and his fellow academy graduates who have played such an integral role in Chelsea’s success.

It does, however, appear likely the Chelsea boss will make a new No 1 a priority during the transfer window.

On arguably the biggest game of his managerial career, Lampard made the huge call of dropping £72million goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The repercussions of that decision will come out in the wash. Nonetheless, it is abundantly clear Lampard simply doesn’t fancy the Spaniard. 

‘I will have a hard think about everything,’ said Lampard.

‘We’ve not kept enough clean sheets – but I don’t want to pinpoint that on Kepa. Today was just a choice.’

Kepa’s future would have been one of the last things on Lampard’s mind heading into this clash.

A draw was all Chelsea needed to maintain their Champions League status; not necessarily the easiest of scenarios for Lampard to balance. 

Indeed, their start suggested as much. Chelsea were hesitant and tentative; in contrast Wolves were vibrant and assertive.

Yet Wolves, in spite of their eye-catching start, failed to create any clear-cut openings as neither side recorded a shot on target during the opening 30 minutes.

Chelsea gradually settled into the game, Olivier Giroud’s header sailed over the bar before Kepa’s replacement Willy Cabellero clawed out Pedro Neto’s intended cross from under his own bar.

But there was still very little to get excited about. Well, there wasn’t until the first half stoppage time as Mount emerged when his team needed him most.

The execution was unerring, the 21-year-old beautifully arcing a free-kick past the despairing Rui Patricio as the first-half entered injury time.

Wolves will point to the contentious decision from Stuart Atwell to penalise Neto’s challenge on Marcos Alonso to allow Mount to fire Chelsea ahead.

The sight of Nuno Espirito Santo marching onto the pitch to chastise Atwell at half-time was indicative of how Wolves felt about the decision. 

You could hear the collective sigh of relief from the Chelsea bench as Mount rippled the net.

The roar was intensified just moments later as Giroud clinched Chelsea’s win in the fourth minute of first-half injury time.

Mount, once more, was at the forefront, Giroud latching onto his pass before bypassing Patricio to slide home. 

With his fists clenched, Lampard turned to his bench. In his first season in charge, his hands tied by a transfer embargo, Chelsea had quailed for the Champions League. You can’t say fairer than that.

Espirito Santo responded by sending on Adama Traore but Wolves mustered very little as their Europa League hopes suffered a crucial blow.

This was Chelsea’s day and Mount was the hero. With an FA Cup Final on the horizon, Lampard will need another hero on Saturday. 

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