Wednesday 21 February 2018

Players must take blame for exit – Cech

PETR CECH blamed a collective failure by Chelsea's players for the club becoming the first holders of the Champions League to exit the competition at the group stage.

His side's 6-1 victory against Nordsjaelland was rendered meaningless as Juventus won at Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea crashed out due to an inferior record in the head-to-head games the teams played.

Robert Di Matteo, who led Chelsea to glory in May in Germany, was dismissed in November, largely as a result of the failure to launch an adequate defence of the trophy, but goalkeeper Cech insisted the blame was with him and his team-mates.

"The responsibility is on everyone," he said. "We are all on the same boat, the manager and the players – the responsibility is the same for everyone. You are a team.

"We had results where we didn't win and we lost away to Donetsk and to Juventus, but I think the main difference was the draw at home to Juventus where we had gone 2-0 up but we finished the game 2-2.

"We knew what could happen prior to this game. The damage had been done before. We did what we could. We had a good performance and goals. We could only hope and, unfortunately, the other result did not go our way."

Interim manager Benitez admitted there was a hollow feeling in the Chelsea dressing-room but was determined to focus on the positives of his first win in charge.

"Always when you win it is a positive. When it is at home it is even better," he said. "The way we won – we had 32 attempts and 18 on target – is really good. When you win you have to be happy but at same time we are disappointed as we didn't progress.

"We can see a lot of positives for the future. We pressed well, we created chances and scored a lot of goals.

Asked about Fernando Torres' two-goal contribution, Benitez added: "He has to score. He was playing well and the team was helping him. If we create chances he will score goals."

Irish Independent

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