Following Chelsea’s biggest ever win in an away game at Southampton, Rafael Benitez was very pleased with the way the team steadied itself after conceding first, and used its quality to overcome a top-flight side comfortably to reach the fourth round of the Cup.
A good reaction to the defeat against QPR was on order and Demba Ba was handed his debut a day after signing. Two goals from the fresh arrival rewarded the selection…
‘It is always important for a striker to score goals but more than just the goals was his contribution for the team,’ said Benitez as he considered Ba’s 90 minutes.
‘His movement and understanding of things we were wanting to do was really good. He was very clever and he could understand the movement of the players. He did everything well on the pitch.
‘I prefer to have this selection problem now than to have just one striker. It is important to have good players and different options, and Ba and Torres can compete or play together.’
On the overall performance…
‘The first half Southampton started well but little by little we were doing better, and the second half we were much better,’ noted Benitiz.
‘With the players we have, when you go one goal ahead and the opposition have to take more risks, if you have clever movement you know you will score more goals.
‘They were going forward and we had more space behind and it is always a threat to have Hazard and Mata and Moses. I am really pleased because Victor has to go to the Africa Cup of Nations but he was given permission to stay today and scored a goal.’
On Frank Lampard’s goal which drew him level with Kerry Dixon overall, and with Bobby Tambling in FA Cup goals…
‘It is a great achievement for him and hopefully he can score a lot of goals until the end of the season.
‘I will be delighted if we can carry on in all the cup competitions until the end because it means the team is doing well. Today I was trying to manage minutes with substitutions for Ivanovic and Mata, and I will try to do the same until the end of the season.
‘We have a good record in the FA Cup and as a club and as a manager, but every game is different. We are happy because we progressed and have another chance to do well, but we will see what happens in the next round.’
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins had no argument about the result and was not short on praise for the opposition from London.
‘Chelsea were very good second-half,’ he said.
‘We started brightly and scored a good goal, but the big killer blow was the goal before half-time. In the second half they demonstrated the good players they have got. Give them credit. They have good football players and a good manager and staff. Mata was exceptional.’