By scoring the winner against Sunderland on Sunday afternoon, Branislav Ivanovic beat his previous best total of Chelsea goals in a season, but it was the team’s ability to pass a stern test that pleased him more.
The Blues started the day outside the top four and then went 1-0 down at home to the Wearsiders in what was our fourth game in eight days, but a good response in the second half yielded an own-goal in our favour, followed by Ivanovic diverting in a David Luiz shot to ensure all the points were secured. It was our third home win in a row and moved us above Arsenal and Tottenham into third place.
‘It is true we were under pressure and we didn’t play at the level we needed to at the start, and it was a very tough game,’ said Ivanovic after the match.
‘Sunderland changed their manager and a lot of things for his first game and we conceded a goal from a set piece. Especially when you concede in the first half at home it can be difficult to change the game, but we did it and we are happy about that.
‘At half-time we said we needed more energy and more intensity and our first goal was very important to give us the confidence and energy to do that.’
The second Chelsea goal was Ivanovic’s seventh of the season, beating the six he scored in 2010/11. He has a total of 21 goals from the five seasons in which he has played here.
‘I saw the ball was coming and I tried to react, maybe to control it, and in the end the ball finished in the net and I am happy about that,’ he said about his latest goal.
‘It is my best total but I am not looking at that. All the goals in this game were strange but for me the three points were important and we have a lot of games until the end of the season, and we have to work very hard to finish it well.
‘In this stage of the season the number of games cannot be an excuse. You have to play every game like a final. This was an important three points and we are in a good way and we have to carry this on to the end of the season.’
– A clip of Branislav Ivanovic and Ryan Bertrand talking to Chelsea TV after the game can be viewed above, with the full interviews available now via the channel’s online access. There is also post-match reaction from Rafael Benitez.