AVB delighted to defy critics

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Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas feels his side's win over Valencia, which sees them finish top of Group E and assure qualification for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, is the perfect repost to club's critics.

The Portuguese boss feels he's come under undeserved scrutiny from sections of the press after six defeats in his first 22 games in charge at Stamford Bridge.

But following the win, Villas-Boas says he feels his side have given the critics a 'slap in the face'.

"Finishing top is fantastic and nobody would have put a bet on us doing that," he said.

"It was very gratifying for the team who were excellent. It was a win of team spirit, solidarity, responsibility, strength of character, ability to take criticism and resilience and this is a great win for Chelsea players.

"The players deserve respect they don't get and we have been continuously chased by different kinds of people and different kinds of pressure. Maybe today we gave everybody a slap in the face.

"There is continuous persecution of Chelsea, continuous aggressiveness for one club. We have become a target and we have to accept that but tomorrow they have to report on a brilliant win with Chelsea qualifying first."

Previous Chelsea performances under Villas-Boas have been littered with indiscipline and defensive errors, while a cavalier attitude in attack led many to believe the 34-year-old's style of play wasn't suiting the squad at his disposal.

Villas-Boas admits that his side had to change tact to overcome their La Liga opponents.

"We made changes to the way we played," he said.

"We tried it at Newcastle the other day. We kept our [defensive] block a little bit lower down the pitch - a medium/low compact block with not a lot of space between the lines. It worked quite well.

"We gave Valencia the initiative and their possession was tremendous. Nobody has given us praise for keeping possession before but football is driven by results. Today we have had an excellent result and the initiative was on Valencia's side, but they couldn't find the correct spaces and they left us the gap to come around in transition and exploit those spaces.

"It was different in Valencia when we played very high up, their goalkeeper was crucial to the result and nobody hailed our style of play. Today we closed together our lines but that doesn't mean we are going to do the same in the future."

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