December 18 2013 Latest news:
By Harry Kemble, at Stamford Bridge
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has lauded substitute Fernando Torres for his impact in the 2-1 victory over Sunderland.
The Blues fell behind on the stroke of half time after Cesar Azpilicueta’s own goal.
The Spaniard was brought on at the interval and, although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, he was instrumental as Matthew Kilgallon’s own goal levelled the scores before Branislav Ivanovic’s strike ensured west London club’s third victory in eight days.
And the interim boss was keen to highlight Torres’ influence in the equaliser.
He said: “Fernando Torres made an impact quickly. I said before Rubin Kazan that he was training well and was working hard.
“The first half we didn’t start well and we conceded a late goal. It was a very good reaction of the team in the second half.”
Chelsea will hope that Ba’s knock is nothing serious because the option of resting Torres and the Senegalese striker over the last eight days has been hugely successful for Benitez.
Ba scored the winner in the FA Cup quarter-final over Manchester United before Torres’ brace left Russian outfit Rubin Kazan with a mountain to climb in the Europa League this Thursday.
The Spaniard will start in their Europa League second leg as the former Newcastle man is cup-tied after appearing in the group stage of the competition.
“You could see today that Torres is fresh and ready,” Benitez added. “That is the main thing now we have two options up front. Ba did the job against Manchester United and Torres against Rubin Kazan on Thursday.
“We have at least two options that we didn’t have before (Ba’s arrival from Newcastle).”
Asked if he was surprised by Chelsea’s rejuvenation after their disappointing league loss over Southampton, Benitez responded by saying the work his squad put in during training is being replicated on the pitch.
“I would be surprised if I wasn’t watching them in every training session,” he continued.
“It is important to keep the team winning, keep the team ready and everybody needs to be on their toes. We will have another four games in the next week so we cannot stop.”
Although, the 52-year-old does concede he is in a rather unique position at having to rotate his squad on the basis of fatigue rather than form.
He said: “The first thing is to see how they are in training and afterwards you need to work out positions of the team. It depends on each player.
“After playing four games in eight days, I am really pleased that we got the result.
“We try to play well because it is easier to play well and you will win more games. But sometimes the opposition can play well too.”