Having made eight changes to the side from the weekend’s game, Rafael Benitez expressed his delight at the Blues securing our place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Second-half goals from Fernando Torres and Victor Moses gave us a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, setting up a trip to Manchester United in the next round. Benitez gave a full debut to Nathan Ake who turned 18 this month and a first start of the season to Paulo Ferreira.
‘I’m really pleased,’ said the Spaniard. ‘We changed some players but I was confident we could do well.
‘I was really pleased with Ake and Ferreira, both of them did a great job for the team, and I was very pleased with what was a professional performance, our mentality and the result.
‘I had confidence because they were doing well and we knew we could keep the balance of the team. When you have two games in three days it’s difficult to manage and you have to be careful but we did what we wanted to do.’
The Blues boss went on to speak about the nature of our opener, after Ramires’s strike flew into the back of the net off Fernando Torres, while also praising the efforts of the Championship side.
‘I don’t know [who scored it], we will have to look at the replay and decide,’ he explained.
‘The first half was tough, Middlesbrough had energy, were well organised and tried to play good football. They have a good manager and he’s doing a great job.
‘We have quality and we scored the first goal, so they had to push higher and we had more spaces and more time in possession.
‘Credit to them because they did well in the first half, but credit to us because we carried on for 90 minutes.’
In addition to considering the action on the pitch on Wednesday evening, Benitez expressed his wish for the fans to unite in creating a positive atmosphere for the team to play in at our games.
‘It will be much better for everyone to have a good atmosphere and to back the players,’ he said.