Benitez believes Torres taking responsibility

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez was pleased Fernando Torres took a penalty in the Europa League defeat of Steaua Bucharest - even though he missed.

Rafael Benitez

Torres scored the crucial third goal as last season's Champions League winners advanced to the Europa League quarter-finals with a 3-1 win on the night and 3-2 aggregate success over the Romanian league leaders.

The Spaniard had the opportunity for a second goal and Chelsea's fourth after earlier goals from Juan Mata and recalled captain John Terry, but his spot-kick struck the crossbar.

Rather than bemoan the miss, Benitez was pleased his compatriot, and former player at Liverpool, was prepared to assume penalty duties.

"He has confidence now and he can take the responsibility," said Benitez, who revealed Torres was one of three possible penalty takers.

"We are quite pleased because he was taking the responsibility.

"It's good. He scored and after he had more confidence and that is positive for the team and positive for him for the future."

Torres' strike was his second goal in 20 games - the effort at Middlesbrough which ricocheted in off his back was belatedly credited to Ramires - and his reward was a nosebleed sustained soon afterwards.

"It (the goal) was important for him," Benitez added.

"It was important - the main thing - for the team. We knew he was working really hard, he was training really well.

"Two days ago he was scoring a lot of goals in training. We knew he was close.

"Hopefully it will be the first of a lot."

Chelsea had to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to progress and levelled the tie through Mata after 33 minutes, only for Vlad Chiriches to score on the stroke of half-time when the Blues failed to clear a corner.

The away goal meant Chelsea needed to score twice to be included in tomorrow's last-eight draw and Terry headed in after 58 minutes and Torres netted after 71 minutes to seal victory - before the Spaniard hit the bar with an 87th-minute penalty.

It was a crucial strike from the much-maligned striker and means Chelsea, who play West Ham in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday, face six games in 16 days following the international break, the run beginning against Southampton on Easter Saturday.

Benitez will take a game-by-game approach to the fixture congestion.

"I prefer to have this problem because it means we're carrying on and competing," he said.

Benitez expected three goals would be necessary to advance and was calm at half-time, having seen his side come from two goals down to force an FA Cup quarter-final replay with Manchester United last Sunday.

"The comeback against United we showed character, passion, commitment and quality and today was exactly the same," Benitez said.

"It was a great victory, a great game, against a good team. Everybody here on our side will be pleased because it was a great performance."

Steaua Bucharest coach Laurentiu Reghencampf rued a 12th-minute chance when Raul Rusescu, whose penalty had given his side the first-leg advantage, saw his shot saved by Petr Cech.

"Had he scored in that situation it might have been a different game," Reghencampf said.

"Then we conceded two easy goals. This is it at this level.

"Every game has its own story and tonight [Thursday] we had an important moment in the 45th minute when we drew level. We had a few more chances and we did not manage to score.

"Congratulations to Chelsea, who played very well in the second half.

"For us this is a very difficult moment now and we have to try to get over it as quickly as possible."

Steaua's focus now returns to the Romanian league, where Steaua hold a 12-point lead in the title race and could clinch a place in the Champions League.

"I would be delighted to meet Chelsea again," Reghencampf said.

 


 

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