Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez hailed Juan Mata as one of the best players in the Barclays Premier League after the Spaniard struck the winner in a 1-0 victory at Norwich.
The win moves the Blues to within four points of Manchester City in the Premier League table and Benitez was full of praise for his compatriot.
“He is playing really well,” he said.
“Even without the ball he is working hard but when we are in possession he is making the difference, I always say the same; if the team are playing well these players can make the difference.
“I think the Premier League has a lot of good players and Mata is one of the best for sure – he can be even better.
“Mata is a player who is dangerous – inside the box and outside the box, we are really pleased with him.
“The team has won three games in a row since Japan…against Man United and Arsenal they (Norwich) have won so we knew it could be tough, I’m pleased for the team and pleased for Juan.”
Benitez left Frank Lampard on the bench for the trip to Norfolk amid speculation he will leave Stamford Bridge next summer.
But the former Liverpool boss was bullish about the future of Lampard and fellow England star Ashley Cole.
“From my position it is very easy, it is a private conversation between Frank and the club and that is it. He is a good player and I would like to bring the best from him, that is my position.
“I don’t know if Ashley has had the conversations or not but, for me, they are players under contract, good players.
“After being injured like he (Lampard) was, we needed fresh legs and we have to manage the squad,” he said
“We can’t play so many game with the same players so we have to manage and everyone is important.”