Football

Benitez confident Chelsea will progress in Europa League

The pressure continues to grow on Benitez (©GettyImages)
The pressure continues to grow on Benitez (©GettyImages) .

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has claimed his side can upturn a 1-0 deficit in Europa League’s round of 16 tie, after being stunned by Steaua Bucharest on Thursday night.

The West London outfit, who are set to square off against rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday, were left chasing the game after Raul Rusescu converted from a 34th minute penalty kick.

The goal proved to be decisive and was enough to see the Romanian side cross the line, with Chelsea failing to exert any notable pressure on their opponents.

The Blues were earlier knocked out of the Champions League this season in the group stages, becoming the first defending champions in the competition’s history to crash out before the knock-out stages.

Disappointed and wary of no away goals to aid their cause in the second leg, Benitez admitted his side faces a strenuous task of surmounting the 1-0 deficit.

However, the under-fire Spaniard believes his side can still turn the game around when the two sides meet at Stamford Bridge next week. 

Benitez said: "We know that we have to do our job now at home.

"In these kind of games and this kind of competition, if you don't score away it's always more difficult. Still you have to believe. We are disappointed, but still we have the belief we will win at home."

Ryan Bertrand was the guilty party for the visitors on the night as he pulled Rusescu inside the box to deny him to get to the end of an Iasmin Latovlevici cross. Match referee, Sergey Karasev had no hesitation in pointing towards the spot, although Benitez was not entirely convinced with the decision.

He observed: “I think it was very soft. To give a penalty in this situation, and especially when you have so many referees in their positions, it is soft. You cannot change the situation but it is very soft. 

"If you give the penalty, why not the (red) card? Strange."

Meanwhile, the Steaua boss Laurentiu Reghecampf lavished praise on his team following the win, but reminded them that the tie was far from over.

He said: "Tonight we only wanted to score and to stop Chelsea from scoring. This is just the result.

"Regardless of what will happen in London, they have to be congratulated for winning against a very, very good team.

"This game is played in two games. We have to perform even better than tonight in London in order to qualify for the quarter-finals."

With this latest defeat for the Blues, the pressure will only continue to grow on interim manager Benitez. 

 

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Topics:
Europa League
Football
Chelsea

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