Belfast Telegraph

Defiant Rafael Benitez tries to play down shock loss to Swansea

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

Rafael Benitez, the interim Chelsea manager, remained defiant last night despite another home defeat, more supporter hostility and a likely cup exit.

Chelsea were beaten 2-0 by Swansea City in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg, while the fans sang the names of former managers Roberto Di Matteo and Jose Mourinho. Benitez, though, insisted his team was playing well and that it was a freak result.

"The team is doing a lot of good things and hopefully we can carry on improving," Benitez said after their second home defeat in a week.

"I was happy with the way the team were working. The team, as a team, were creating chances, for Juan Mata, Ramires, and David Luiz, a lot of players in the box. We had 23 attempts."

This was the fifth domestic home game of Benitez's tenure and the fourth in which they failed to score. The Spaniard said the performances were not the problem and that this was a game Chelsea would almost always win.

"The team are doing well," Benitez said. "You can lose a game and then analyse it, but if you play this game 10 times maybe you will win nine of them."

Despite recent bad results, in which Chelsea have slipped to 14 points off the lead in the Premier League, Benitez said that serious analysis would show his side was progressing. "If you say the team is doing wrong, that's your opinion," he said. "But I can only say what I see. If you see just the score, that's fine. Or if you analyse the game and the way things are going, it's a different opinion."

Benitez spent most of the game hearing Chelsea fans imploring him to bring on Demba Ba for Fernando Torres. Ba nearly scored twice and might have won a penalty in a nine-minute substitute appearance but Benitez denied he made much difference.

"We had chances at the end, one or two, but the team were creating chances from the first minute," Benitez said. "The team were creating chances, not one player."

Swansea's first goal was scored by Michu, and Michael Laudrup said there were only four clubs in the world who could sign the Spanish forward, the "bargain of the season".

"We all know the situation, the economic situation in the world, so there really aren't that many clubs who can buy him," the Swansea manager said. "Here, in Spain there are only two, in Italy I don't think so and Bayern Munich in Germany. And Michu likes it here, he is happy where he is, so I'm really not afraid. He was the bargain of the season. I would never expect a new player to come in and score so many goals."

Despite the 2-0 lead Swansea will take back to the Liberty Stadium, Laudrup said Chelsea were still favourites to reach next month's final at Wembley.

"We're not there yet," Laudrup said. "We're still very far. We will need a great, great performance like the one today. If we don't have a good day, they can still score two or three goals because of the players they have. I just wanted the players and fans to have the realistic possibility to get into the final going into that home game. We have that now. We have a realistic possibility, but there's still a mountain to climb."

Laudrup compared the victory to his best moments at Swansea City. "We already, in the first half of the season, achieved some historic results for the club: winning at Anfield, winning at the Emirates. But winning at the European champions from last season is something very special."

Belfast Telegraph


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