Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has praised the efforts of his team after they ran out eventual winners at Old Trafford, beating Sir Alex Ferguson's lacklustre Red Devils 1-0.
The game rarely came to life in an encounter that has been a feisty affair in the past. Oscar showed a glimpse of quality on 15 minutes when he ran from the halfway line to fire a shot that United keeper Anders Lindegaard palmed onto the post, but that was as good as it got for both teams until the 87th minute.
Juan Mata found space after receiving a pass from Oscar in the penalty area, and the Spaniard fired the ball across Lindegaard which, with help from a deflection, found its way into the far corner of the goal. The victory takes Chelsea third in the table, and a step closer to Champions League football next season, and Benitez was happy with the performances of his players.
Benitez told reporters: "We knew that we needed to win a couple of games, and this one is the first. It is very important and we play against Tottenham on Wednesday and we know that is a very crucial game. If we can win we will still be in the top four but we still have two games to play. These three points have been massive for us.
Both sides look jaded through long periods of the game, and Benitez has highlighted the importance of the hard-fought victory that has seen his side move to third in the table.
Chelsea have a home game at Tottenham on Wednesday, followed by an away trip to face Aston Villa, before finishing the season with a home game against Everton. This is a run of games that Chelsea will hope to gain maximum points from, with Arsenal and Tottenham both chasing the Blues for the chance to play in the Champions League.
The Spaniard finished by saying: “I have to do my job until the end of the season and I’ll focus on that. I came here and was certain we could do really well.
“We could be closer to United but, with a team in transition, we need to settle down. Given all the circumstances, we are OK.
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