Benitez bites back at fans

Middlesbrough 0 Chelsea 2

Benitez bites back at fans

The interim manager, who was once again targeted by a section of his own club’s support during last night’s 2-0 FA Cup fifth round victory at Middlesbrough, was in defiant mood after the game.

He said: “I have been in charge in football for 26 years. I have won the Champions League, won the Fifa Club World Cup, the FA Cup, the Italian Super Cup, the Spanish league twice, nine trophies, all the trophies you can win at club level.

“A group of fans, they are not doing any favours for the team when they are singing and wasting time preparing banners.

“It’s because someone made a mistake. They put my title (as) ‘interim manager’, and I will leave at the end of the season, so they don’t need to waste time with me.

“They have to concentrate on supporting the team, that’s what they have to do.

“In the end, they are not doing any favours to the club, to the rest of the fans and to the players.

“Every game they continue singing and they continue preparing banners, they are wasting time. What they have to do is support the team.

“If we cannot achieve what we expect to achieve, that is to be in the top four and be in the Champions League for next year, I will leave; they will stay in the Europa League.”

The outburst came after Chelsea booked themselves a mouth-watering FA Cup quarter-final trip to Manchester United.

A day after the manager had moved to play down reports of a rift with skipper John Terry, he saw the England defender lead his side to a 2-0 victory at Championship side Middlesbrough and a place in the last eight.

The Blues took the lead when midfielder Ramires’ 51st-minute shot flicked Fernando Torres, who knew little or nothing about it, and flew past keeper Jason Steele before the impressive Victor Moses made sure with a close-range finish 15 minutes from time.

But the European champions were made to work hard for their victory as Boro largely contained them before the break to give the locals among a crowd of 27,856 at the Riverside Stadium hope of a shock result.

However, a much-changed Chelsea — Benitez made no fewer than eight changes to the side which lost 2-0 at Manchester City at the weekend, including handing a first start to 18-year-old Dutchman Nathan Ake — gradually eased through the gears to ensure their progression.

Chelsea turned in a tepid first-half display despite starting brightly enough with the pace and power of Moses down the right and the invention of Oscar causing problems for the Teessiders.

Chelsea were enjoying plenty of possession as Ake provided the fulcrum in the middle of the field, but with Torres becalmed in a sea of indecision —he scuffed a 21st-minute shot tamely at Steele — they struggled to create clear-cut chances.

There were boos from the travelling fans at half-time, but the same 11 men emerged after the break as Benitez gave them further time to make their mark.

It took them only six minutes to do just that as they finally edged their way in front.

Oscar’s determined run to the by-line and floated cross caused problems for the home defence and when Benayoun fed the loose ball out to Ramires, he curled the ball into the top corner with the help of a slight deflection off the unwitting Torres.

Substitute Eden Hazard might have extended his side’s lead with 18 minutes remaining with a deft shot which just evaded the top corner, but it was he who accepted Oscar’s pass seconds later to provide Moses with a tap-in.

MIDDLESBROUGH: Steele, Bailey, McManus, Bikey (Hines 35), Friend, Carayol (Zemmama 74), Leadbitter, Rhys Williams, Haroun, Main (Miller 62), McDonald.

CHELSEA: Cech, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Bertrand, Ake, Ramires, Moses (Luiz 76), Oscar (Marin 79), Benayoun (Hazard 58), Torres.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

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