A Fernando Torres equaliser with seven minutes left to play spared our blushes in a 2-2 draw with Brentford in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Griffin Park, meaning Uwe Rosler’s side will now head to Stamford Bridge for a replay.
The hosts had taken the lead four minutes before the break through Marcello Trotta, before Oscar equalised soon after the restart. Brentford appeared to be on course for a major upset when they went 2-1 up courtesy of a Harry Forrester penalty, but their dreams were spoiled when Torres struck late on.
Rafael Benitez was frustrated with his side’s first-half display, but praised the players for the way in which they reacted to going behind on two separate occasions.
On the performance
‘In the first half we didn’t do what we had to do,’ said the Spaniard. ‘We knew it would be difficult but we made too many mistakes in our approach and the way we wanted to play.
‘I was very pleased with the reaction of the players in the second half, we showed quality, character and it was much better.
‘I changed [Juan] Mata at half-time and he made a big difference. We were controlling the game and I thought I would bring Demba on for the last 10-15 minutes to try to do something. We were on top of them, but sometimes it’s good if you change things, and Demba did a great job on the left.
‘They were pushing and we knew it could be difficult, but we kept giving the ball away in simple situations which we could have managed better. You have to perform, we didn’t start well and they grew into the game.
‘In the second half we showed our real level, like we did last week against Arsenal. We have no excuses as to why we didn’t play well in the first half, we just didn’t do the right things.
‘Oscar and Fernando scored great goals, and it was because the team were doing well and we were creating things. If we do that, Fernando, Demba, Oscar and Mata will all score goals.’
On Brentford’s display
‘Brentford did well, we knew they would play with a high tempo and try to press. Our scouts did a good job because we knew everything they could do, but they did it well, so credit to them.
‘As a team they showed great character. You could see the manager on the touchline telling them what they needed to do and they did it.’
On staying in the FA Cup
‘For us, it’s important to do well in every competition. The top four is the priority, but we want to progress in the other competitions. The FA Cup is massive, Chelsea won it last season and we will try to do it again.’
On our busy fixture schedule
‘It’s very difficult; we are playing a game every three days. How can you train the day before? How can you train the day after? We have to use the same players all the time, so hopefully the players that are injured will be able to come back, and hopefully the players at the Africa Cup of Nations will be back sooner rather than later.
‘The positive was the reaction of the team, but the negative is that we are using some players too often. We are a strong team but we have problems because certain players are playing 90 minutes all the time, it’s not easy.’
On the injuries to Petr Cech and David Luiz
‘We have to see how Petr Cech and David Luiz are tomorrow, and see how they progress. Cech has a niggle and David Luiz was doing well, but with the games so close together we need to be sure on him.’
Rosler, meanwhile, was full of praise for his League One side, and is looking forward to the replay.
‘In the first half we had some good opportunities on the counter-attack,’ he explained. ‘It was much harder in the second half and they brought Mata on.
‘They had a lot of the play but didn’t create many chances, but my players were fantastic and have earned the right to play at Stamford Bridge.’