Having watched Chelsea’s defence of the FA Cup come to an end one game short of this season’s final, Rafael Benitez complemented our semi-final opponents but also expressed regret over an important decision not given by the match officials.
Manchester City had the better of the first half at Wembley and had a goal to show for it, and they doubled their advantage very soon after the restart, but Chelsea were not beaten yet and Demba Ba scored another acrobatic FA Cup goal with 25 minutes to go.
However the match ended 2-1 and although there was plenty of talk about a challenge on David Luiz by Sergio Aguero after the ball had gone, Benitez preferred to concentrate on a penalty not awarded to Fernando Torres when he appeared to be impeded by already booked Vincent Kompany late in the game.
‘It is clear we played against a very good team and their goal early in the second half was very disappointing because we wanted to reacted,’ said Benitez.
‘When Torres came onto the pitch we scored a goal quickly and the team had more determination and confidence and played much better when we had the ball, and we were on top of Man City until the end.
‘I was disappointed we could not score another goal because we had one or two chances and also the penalty was not given which was clear, and could make a big difference. It could be a red card and a goal for us and it could change the game. The picture shows Torres’s shirt up.
‘Man City could have scored another goal in the first half maybe, and we could have scored one or two in the second half, and you have to give credit to them because they are a very good team but these decisions can make a big difference.’
The Spaniard does not believe a game away in Russia on Thursday was responsible for Man City starting the game better than Chelsea …
‘If that was the case then you cannot explain how we finished so strongly. You have to give credit to Man City because they are a very good team, they are strong and technically good and they have players who can make a difference in defence, the middle and attack.
‘That was the situation in the first half and we were talking at half-time about showing more character in possession and we did it in the second half, but unfortunately scoring the second goal was more difficult.’
Looking ahead to the next challenge…
‘Now we have to concentrate on the league and for us Fulham on Wednesday will be a massive game,’ said Benitez.
‘We know very well we have to focus and be ready and we will try to keep the players thinking positively and about the good things we did in the second half.’
Man City boss Roberto Mancini agreed Chelsea had got back into the game after the interval and tested his side.
‘We played very well in the first half and had everything under control,’ said the Italian, ‘and when we scored the second goal we played like if the game was finished. But the Demba Ba goal changed the game and for 10 minutes we had some problems.’