Benitez hits back at Chelsea critics

Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez aimed a dig at his critics in the media after the team's 2-1 win over Sunderland.

Football News: Chelsea vs Sunderland

Cesar Azpilicueta's own goal shortly before the interval gave Sunderland hope of a shock Stamford Bridge success, but they left West London empty-handed after the unfortunate Matt Kilgallon put through his own net before Branislav Ivanovic deflected home David Luiz's long-range shot.

Benitez has had to cope with constant scrutiny over his selection, tactics and future after taking charge of the Stamford Bridge club, but the club remain on course to secure Champions League football next season and remain in contention for FA Cup and Europa League glory.

And Benitez used his post-match interview to hit out at the pundits and reporters who he feels have been too quick to rush to judgement over the weekend.

He told Sky Sports: "Two or three days before it was a crisis, two hours before the game it was the end of the world. Now we are in the top three again.

"The media, you are too quick, too fast, everything is going too fast. We have to settle down and analyse things and have more relaxation when you do your analysis."

Benitez made five changes to his side from the victory over Rubin Kazan on Thursday night, with the victory over Sunderland Chelsea's fourth game in nine days.

He added: "You always try to select the right team. If you win you will say that is right, if you cannot, maybe we will find something to talk about.

"We see the players training and today [Sunday] you could see some players who were a little bit tired.

"But we have quality in the squad and the priority now is every game, trying to pick the right team and trying to win."

Benitez anticipates the race for a Champions League qualifying spot will continue until May 19, but he hopes last season's European Cup winners will be certain of their place before then.

The London derby with Tottenham - a date for which is still to be confirmed - could effectively be a play-off for Champions League football next term.

"Hopefully not for us, but I think it will be the case," said Benitez, when asked if the battle for a top-four spot will continue until the end of the season.

"Spurs and Arsenal are still there pushing, Everton as well.

"We have to continue to the end. Hopefully we can do well in the cup competitions and be ready for Fulham and Liverpool."

Benitez was pleased with the response of his side after they went behind to a Cesar Azpilicueta own goal just before the break.

"The most important thing was to get the result and we did it," he said.

"The reaction was the most important thing. We showed character, we showed determination in the second half and we scored two goals."

Victory for the Blues, who beat Manchester United on Monday and Rubin Kazan on Thursday, may have come at a cost with Demba Ba going off at half-time with an ankle injury.

Craig Gardner was booked for the challenge and was perhaps fortunate to avoid a red card.

Ba is cup-tied for the Europa League and will miss the trip to Moscow, but

Fernando Torres made an impact as his replacement and appeared more confident following his double on Thursday night.

"When you change a player at half-time, it's not fine," Benitez said.

"The tackle was a heavy tackle, but we don't know now. It's too early."

Paolo Di Canio remains confident that Sunderland can avoid relegation from the Premier League despite his first game at the helm ending in a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea.

He told Sky Sports: "At the moment everything is negative, but we are not worried because we are going to do the right job to stay in the league.

"I believe in the quality of my players. When I decided to come to Sunderland I knew which players were here. Despite the environment and the situation I found a very good group of players.

"Obviously we have to work more. They did very well in the last few days and now we will see if they can give me the same ability for the next six games.

"The first half gave me a very, very good feeling for the future because we are not going to play against Chelsea every time, they are one of the top four sides.

"It is obvious that the job has to come from us because maybe we will play against a weaker side than Chelsea."



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