FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: CUP CHARACTERS

Rafael Benitez praised his players' performance after they came from two goals down against Manchester United to earn an FA Cup quarter-final replay.

Two down inside 10 minutes, we recovered to take control of the contest at Old Trafford, and having struck twice after the break we could have gone on to win the game, only for United goalkeeper David De Gea to keep out Juan Mata's shot right at the death.

On the 90 minutes, Benitez said:

'We knew it would be tough and anything could happen. But we saw the character and reaction I expected. It means the players are working very hard and ready for the challenge. Until the end we will be fighting.

'I think we should have won the game. In the first half we made two mistakes and conceded two goals but had good chances on the counter and in the second half were on top. We had good chances until the end so it was a pity but it was a good game.

'In the second half we regained a lot of balls and played good football. We had great team spirit, working hard with passion and commitment and everything was possible.

'The team deserved the winning goal. All the players gave 100 per cent, and for me that is enough.'

On his team selection and substitutions:

'They were playing at home and played on Tuesday. We played in Romania on Thursday. They had everything in their favour. We travelled from Romania, did a great game and I was pleased with my players.

'Going to Romania I knew we had some tired players and we had to manage them. We had to pick a starting 11 with fresh legs but knew we would have to make substitutions and we did it.

'We knew we had to change something and at the same time we knew Hazard is a player with quality that could make the difference. Obi had fresh legs. Frank gave 100 per cent, and you have to manage the squad. I was really pleased with the reaction of the players.

'We knew it would be tough and anything could happen. But we saw the character and reaction I expected. It means the players are working very hard and ready for the challenge. Until the end we will be fighting.

'Obviously Hazard is a player with talent, he can make a difference any time. In the middle with Lampard and Rami, Rami has to stay, and in the second half with Mikel it was the opposite, and Ramires had to go and was good going forward.'

On a potential semi against Manchester City:

'We have to think about the first game. You cannot think about Manchester City before you play Manchester United, a team with very good players, who are tough at home and away.

'I have the belief we can do it but there is still a lot of respect because United is a great side.'