Rafael Benitez revealed after he had watched his side make it through to Friday’s Europa League quarter-final draw that he expected at least three goals would be needed to knock out Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge.
Happily Juan Mata, John Terry and Fernando Torres were able to do just that, giving Chelsea a 3-2 aggregate win after the Romanians added to their 1-0 win in the first leg with a goal in the first half on Thursday night.
‘It was a great game and a great victory against a good team, so I think everybody here on our side will be pleased,’ said Benitez.
‘We knew Steaua are a good team and we knew they had some strengths and some weaknesses, so we tried to exploit the weaknesses but still we were a little bit worried about their strengths.
‘I told the players before the game that we were playing against a team good in counter attacks and that they could score, and in our heads we had to think about scoring three goals.
‘At half-time I had to say the same, they had scored and so we had to carry on. Because we did it before against Nordsjaelland, against Aston Villa, against Leeds, against Southampton – a lot of games when we have scored more than three goals – we had a lot of confidence and as soon as we scored the second goal we were back in the game.
‘We had confidence before the game and we have more confidence after the game because we came back against Man United with some character, passion, commitment and quality and today was exactly the same. We had all these things together against a good team.’
On Torres scoring the decisive third and then missing a late penalty…
‘The goal was important for him but the main thing was it was important for the team. We knew that he was working really hard, he was training really well and two days ago he was scoring a lot of goals in the training sessions, so we knew that he was close and hopefully it will be the first of a lot.
‘He was one of three designated penalty takers and it was good that he was feeling the confidence to take the responsibility.’
On the congested calendar that now continues…
‘The idea is one game at a time so the next one in the Premier League is the most important. We will have to manage in this way and I prefer to have this problem because it means we are carrying on competing.
‘Since I came here we have been playing around nine games each month and we knew that could be difficult and we know that can still be difficult. We have confidence in the players that we have and hopefully we can manage well and progress in all of the competitions.
‘Always a top side wants to be in all the competitions until the end so we will try to do our best and manage the squad.’