Rafa backs misfiring Torres

Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez defended Fernando Torres after the striker continued to fire blanks in their Europa League progression to the last 16.

Last Updated: 22/02/13 at 10:47 Post Comment

Rafa Benitez: Relieved to progress and delighted with matchwinner Eden Hazard

Rafa Benitez: Relieved to progress and delighted with matchwinner Eden Hazard

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Substitute Eden Hazard saved the Blues from extra-time with a last-gasp strike to snatch a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge that was enough to overcome Sparta Prague's persistence over the two legs.

The Spaniard has been under-fire for most of the season and continued to struggle in front of goal, wasting four clear-cut chances on a night Chelsea dominated possession without displaying a convincing cutting edge.

Most glaringly Torres was off-target twice in the opening 15 minutes, when a more confident striker may have helped ensure the ensuing night of nerves were averted.

"He didn't play badly tonight," Benitez said about his forward who has scored once in his past 14 games - against League One Brentford.

"You can analyse a striker for the number of goals he scores. Maybe you're right. But he did a great job for the team tonight. It's not easy against a team playing deep, but he was winning the ball in the air, bringing options for those around him.

"I thought he was playing well. I disagree he was playing badly. But of course we want him to take the chances that come his way.

"If he continues working like today and playing like he did today, he will score goals. I'm convinced about that. We could be talking about Fernando not scoring goals, and he had four chances. But he had four chances.

"Let's turn it into a positive. I've seen him in games not having these chances because he's not in the right position. Today the goalkeeper stopped him and he missed some. It wasn't the situation where the striker disappeared.

"Are we disappointed he didn't score? Yes, we are. But he was still giving his all to the team."

In the end it was Hazard's craft that broke down the hard-working Czechs with the final kick and book a last-16 tie with Steaua Bucharest.

The Belgian, who replaced Oscar after 67 minutes, dropped his shoulder to beat a defender before blasting a drive that the impressive Tomas Vaclik was unable to keep out.

"Hazard has quality and ability and we knew he could make the difference in the end," added Benitez. "It was not easy to pick anyone to come off. We decided Oscar because Victor Moses could give us width on the right and Hazard on the left.

"They were playing deep, so we wanted to stretch them. But we did well. We had 22 attempts and clear chances. We didn't score until the end, but we had 60% of the possession and did well.

"We made two or three mistakes and gave them opportunities to counter, but we still did enough to deserve to go through."

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

t's why Mourinho is so successful. He gives players a specific, limited set of functions to perform. They are but a cog in a machine. Do no more, do no less. I assume he learnt it from LvG :)

red_devil83
Fellaini Has Politely Become Undroppable

I

really hope that someone in the mainstream media spots that the Bayern manager played for and managed Barcelona quite well, and thinks to mention it in the build up. That would be really interesting.

megabrow (cufc)
Barcelona to face Bayern

Y

our gob says one thing, Brendan, the results say something else.

balls-to-monty
Rodgers bullish over Anfield future

Footer 365

Marouane Fellaini: I never lost my quality during first Man Utd season

Marouane Fellaini has taken a swipe at his critics, saying his fruitful time at Everton was "quickly forgotten".

Everton 3-0 Manchester United: Louis van Gaal's side suffer second straight Premier League defeat

Everton beat Manchester United 3-0 at Goodison Park to inflict a second straight Premier League loss on Louis van Gaal's side.

Kane makes cut but Hazard, Costa, Terry among six Chelsea players in PFA Premier League Team of the Year

Six Chelsea players have been named in the Professional Footballers' Association's Premier League Team of the Year.

Mail Box

Chelsea Millions Should Buy Better...

For the money they have spent, Chelsea should be playing like the Harlem Globetrotters rather than Atletico. We have mails on Cesc, Brendan Rodgers and...

Brendan Rodgers Is David Cameron...

Rodgers is compared to the Prime Minister, insomuch as he has a right to peddle bulls**t, apparently. Plus why comparing Arsene Wenger to Diego Simeone is a mug's game...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company