Victories will unite Chelsea insists Rafael Benitez
Chelsea beat Leeds 5-1 in the Capital One Cup
Thursday 20 December 2012
Rafael Benitez is confident he will win over Chelsea's doubting fans if his players can maintain the form they showed in dismantling old rivals Leeds in a 5-1 Capital One Cup quarter-final second-half stroll at Elland Road.
Chelsea's interim manager Benitez has been under fire the minute he walked into Stamford Bridge to replace the sacked Roberto Di Matteo at the end of last month.
But second-half efforts from Juan Mata, Branislav Ivanovic, Victor Moses, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres, which included a four-goal 19-minute blitz, ensured the perfect response from Benitez's side following their disappointing World Club Cup final defeat in Japan.
The European champions lost out 1-0 to Corinthians of Brazil in Yokohama on Sunday and following a flight delay which saw them return to London on Monday afternoon found themselves 1-0 down to old enemy Leeds at half-time thanks to Luciano Becchio's fine first-half opener.
But Mata equalised for the Londoners two minutes into the second half and after Leeds had held their own for an hour, the Barclays Premier League side turned in a display of clinical finishing to leave a delighted Benitez to reflect on the impressive way his players had bounced back.
"My priority is to win against [Sunday's opponents] Aston Villa now, enjoy this, and it will be a question of time. If we can play at this level and win games it will be easier to have everybody together," said Benitez, whose side will meet either Villa or Arsenal's conquerors, Bradford, in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley, if they can overcome Swansea in the semi-finals.
Searching questions had been asked of the Spaniard after Chelsea took just five points from four Barclays Premier League games since he replaced Di Matteo and the former Liverpool manager could not hide his relief.
"I'm pleased with the way that we won and pleased because we came back from Japan with jet lag, sleeping too much, players tired and still the performance was fantastic.
"The first half was very good, the second half was amazing. Coming back we needed to see the fitness of the players and we had to decide to change some of them, so to have this reaction, being mentally ready and after working so hard and playing so well, I'm really pleased with them."
Leeds manager Neil Warnock, who shook hands with Benitez after the match to draw a line under their fall-out dating back to 2007, was pleased with his side's display and quickly turned his attention to Saturday's npower Championship clash against Middlesbrough.
Warnock is also eagerly-awaiting news of the completion of the club's pending takeover by Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital, which is scheduled to be finalised on Friday.
"I'm disappointed because I thought if Tom Lees' header had gone in just before half-time, it would have made it 2-0 and very difficult for them, but overall we made it a difficult night for them and played some good football," Warnock said.
"The noise volume when we scored, I've never heard anything like it. If Leeds sort themselves out..."
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