Under-fire Benitez insists Chelsea can make final
Published 10/01/2013 | 08:23
RAFA Benitez insists Chelsea's hopes of Capital One Cup glory are still alive despite last night's embarrassing semi-final first leg defeat to Swansea at Stamford Bridge.
Benitez was yet again subjected to a torrent of abuse from the Chelsea faithful as they watched their side drift towards an exit from the competition thanks to goals from Michu and Danny Graham.
Benitez came under fire for failing to start Demba Ba and Frank Lampard while Chelsea's supporters sang "You're not welcome" at the Spaniard and called for the return of the his predecessor Roberto Di Matteo.
The former Liverpool boss has become used to barracking from the terraces in west London and was happy to dodge the issue last night.
He refused to single out any of his players out for criticism and remained firmly upbeat about Chelsea's predicament, adding that his team can still overturn the two-goal deficit and make next month's final at Wembley.
"Swansea have a great advantage, but if we go there and score one goal we can see what happens," Chelsea's interim manager said.
"The team is doing a lot of good things and hopefully we can carry on improving."
Swansea barely had to work for their win last night. Errors from Branislav Ivanovic gifted the visitors both their goals and the rest of the Blues side, with the exception of David Luiz, performed poorly.
Fernando Torres had one of the worst games of his woeful spell at Stamford Bridge, touching the ball just 19 times during his 81 minutes on the pitch, none of which tested Gerhard Tremmel in the Swansea goal.
It was only when Ba was introduced with 10 minutes to go that Chelsea sprung in to life. The former Newcastle striker, who scored twice on debut last weekend, went close with two efforts, had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside call, and also had a decent penalty shout turned down at the death.
Benitez refused to hit out at his players for their collective performance, though, insisting he was relatively happy with their efforts.
The Spaniard said: "The team are doing well. You can lose a game and then analyse it, but if you play this game 10 times maybe you will win nine of them.
"I think the team were doing really well, had a lot of chances and could have scored two or three in the first half, but we made two mistakes and paid for them.
"I can see any player making mistakes and it's not an issue. It's about trying to do things afterwards, and Ivanovic tried to do his best. We carried on and tried to do the right things."
One crumb of comfort for the interim manager is that he may have John Terry available for selection again soon.
The Blues skipper has been absent since he suffered knee ligament damage in November, but he is expected to play in their Under-21 game against Fulham this evening.
Should he come through the match, Benitez may consider recalling Terry for this weekend's game against Stoke.