MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 2 SWANSEA CITY 0
Victory at home to Swansea on Sunday afternoon consolidated Chelsea's position in the top four.
Goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard, who came on for the injured Ramires in the first half, extended the gap to Spurs in fifth place to three points, with our north London neighbours only managing a draw at Wigan on Saturday.
Two goals inside five minutes at the end of the half did the damage, after which the result was never in doubt.
First, a well-worked move from back to front saw Lampard slip in Oscar, who fired low into the far bottom corner, before Juan Mata was fouled inside the area to allow the 34-year-old his 201st Chelsea goal.
Both sides had had chances beforehand, Gary Cahill notably heading over on his return from injury, and in the second half Demba Ba engaged in a personal battle with Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm, who made a string of impressive saves.
The win sets us up well for a string of fixtures that could see us into the final of the Europa League before decisive domestic action against Manchester United and Spurs.
Rafael Benitez made four changes from the side that started against Basel on Thursday night. Cahill made his first appearance in over a month alongside John Terry in central defence. Branislav Ivanovic made way.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup made two changes to their side, with Wayne Routledge and Ki Sung-Yeung preferred to Luke Moore and Nathan Dyer. Michu was the lone striker.
A win would leave Chelsea in a strong position for Champions League qualification, and against a Swansea side touted as already being on its summer holidays after lifting the Capital One Cup in February, a routine three points would be expected.
But factoring in the midweek trip to Switzerland, and the slow start made against Manchester City following midweek action a fortnight ago, it was perhaps not surprising to see a slightly lacklustre opening from the Blues.
When they eventually did in the 20th minute, Ashley Cole was on hand to clear from a dangerous cross with both Michu and Jonathan de Guzman lurking, before Pablo Hernandez shot just past Petr Cech's right-hand post.
Ramires was forced off after 24 minutes with what looked like a thigh problem, allowing Lampard to leave the bench. His introduction was followed by a scramble inside the Swansea box that saw both Ba and Oscar fail to get shots away, the visitors eventually clearing the ball to safety.
Renowned for their tidy possession football, Swansea were spending more time without it than they were accustomed to, instead threatening more on the counter. One break saw Hernandez cut in from the right and dink a clever pass for Michu, but the Spaniard uncharacteristically shot way wide.
At the other end Lampard won possession in midfield and after making up 30 yards unchallenged, shot low at goal only to see Vorm extend an arm to turn it around the post. From the corner, Cahill headed just over the bar.
Frustration was just beginning to set in, so what better time to take the lead than three minutes before the break. It started on halfway when John Terry cut out a loose ball, and he exchanged passes with Lampard before putting him away, the midfielder just clipping the ball to his right for Oscar to take a touch and fire low across Vorm.
Mata, who had been quiet, came in from the right and was tripped inside the area by Leon Britton. Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot, and Lampard fired home his 201st Chelsea goal low into Vorm's bottom-right corner.
It was a fitting way to end a half that would be followed by the introduction of Bobby Tambling at the break. Chelsea's record goalscorer, on 202, has been in hospital recently but having been released in Ireland on Wednesday, he had travelled over for this game and was presented to the crowd to receive a fantastic reception.
Anyone expecting it to be game over with Chelsea shutting up shop for three points and Swansea exercising damage limitation would have been surprised by the first few minutes of the second half. Instead it dramatically opened up.
Lampard nearly claimed his second of the afternoon before Hernandez fired way, way over after a swift Swansea break, and then Ba outmuscled Ashley Williams before seeing his deflected shot well blocked by Vorm at the near post.
Angel Rangel then saw a decent chance deflected behind and Vorm pulled off a brilliant one-handed stop to deny Ba once more. An hour had not yet passed.
Finally it did settle down as Chelsea reduced the tempo, but still Swansea came looking for a way back into the game. For all their tidy passing, around the area they were lacking quality with their final ball. Mata nearly put the result beyond doubt 18 minutes from time, but saw his right-footed clip roll just the wrong side of the post.
Swansea sub Itay Shechter had a shot fly narrowly over and Ba again worked Vorm as the clock ticked down. Inside the final five minutes Lampard had a powerful volley blocked.
Goal number 202 would have to wait, but with important points accumulated, nobody will have any complaints.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires (Lampard 24), David Luiz; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Ba.
Unused substitutes: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Bertrand, Mikel, Benayoun, Torres.
Goals Oscar 43, Lampard 45+1
Booked Azpilicueta 55
Swansea City (4-2-3-1): Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams (c), Davies (Taylor 81); Britton (Shechter 69), Ki Sung-Yueng; Hernandez, De Guzman, Routledge (Dyer 66); Michu.
Unused substitutes: Tremmel, Monk, Tiendalli, Moore.
Booked Williams 37, Britton 45+1, Davies 69
Referee Mark Clattenburg