Rafael Benitez wants Europa League consolation prize for Chelsea

Champions League holders fail to progress from group

Stamford Bridge

Rafa Benitez tried to put a gloss on Chelsea’s Champions League group stage elimination when he said that the team was capable of achieving “whatever we want” if they played at the level it took to beat Nordsjaelland 6-1 at Stamford Bridge.

The Danish champions were brushed aside by Chelsea who nevertheless went out the Champions League at the group stage for the first time in their ten seasons in the competition when Juventus beat Shakhtar in Donetsk to take the first place in Group E. Benitez said that Chelsea would take the Europa League seriously, although admitted that most clubs only do so when they find themselves in the latter stages of the competition.

He said: “I'm sure that, playing at this level, we can do whatever we want. But we have to show that in the next game. One game at a time. if you remember the games we've already played, we performed more or less [well] against Manchester City, we could have beaten Fulham, the first half against West Ham [was promising]. Everything I have seen from the players is positive. They are progressing. They are improving. So I have to be pleased.”

He added: “The Europa League is not important if you don't win. But if you are in the semi-final or final, everyone wants to win. It's an important competition at that stage. So, if we get there, we'll do our best to win it.”

Although Chelsea were awarded two penalties in the first half for handball, Fernando Torres, who scored twice, declined to take either of them despite the absence of regular penalty-taker Frank Lampard. The striker has historically not taken penalties since leaving Atletico Madrid but Benitez suggested that he was not in the right frame of mind to do so.

“You have to have some players [to take penalties] and in this case we had two who were fine, [Eden] Hazard and David [Luiz]. Sometimes you don't need a striker taking penalties if you have others who can do it. If you have others who, maybe, are more calm and have more composure. At Liverpool we had [Steven] Gerrard. Here Hazard and Luiz. In the future, maybe [Torres] we'll see. But the players knew before it would be Hazard and, after, David Luiz.”

There are still major doubts about John Terry’s readiness to fly to Japan next week. The Chelsea captain said in his programme notes that the record before last night’s match of no wins in six games was “simply ... not good enough”. He said: “We, as players, have to stand up and take responsibility – stand up and stay together.”

After the win Benitez said that his side could build on the result. “More than the win was the way we win: the character, attitude, intensity, chances we created. I'm really pleased for the club, the players, the fans and for me.

“The owner had confidence and hoped we could continue in the Champions League, but, again, it was out of our hands. He was expecting. We were expecting. I had confidence. But now we have to think about the future and that future is Sunderland and the great performance.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk