FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: JOB DONE

Posted on: Fri 12 Apr 2013

The Blues march into the semi-finals of the Europa League, but having led twice on the night - through Fernando Torres and Victor Moses - we endured a nervy finish after Rubin Kazan had gone 3-2 up, eventually progressing 5-4 on aggregate.

Perhaps with one eye on Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City, Rafael Benitez rung the changes, handing rare starts to both Paulo Ferreira and youngster Nathan Ake, while Juan Mata and Eden Hazard were unused substitutes.

As he reflected on the match, Benitez, while disappointed at the result, was eager to praise his side for reaching our third semi-final of the season.

On the performance
'I'm disappointed because we didn't defend well in the second half but we go through and I'm really pleased with the team and the effort, the players gave everything on the pitch,' said the Blues boss.

'I'm happy with the first half, but we have to improve on the second half, not just the defenders but the whole team.

'We have to deal with crosses better, but you have to give credit to them as well because they have some players with quality.

'You have to analyse the two games in the right context. We had a good result and came here, it's a different environment and there were different things that we had to manage, but we did well.

'It was a pity to lose the game but we went through and that's the main thing. We were able to use players like Ferreira and Ake, who haven't been playing, and give them a chance. We were able to manage the squad and hopefully we will have some fresh legs for Sunday.'

On whether or not complacency crept in after the break
'I don't think so but the timing of the goals was important. When they scored we had to start again, it looked like the game was finished but it wasn't, and it was the same with their second goal.

'Credit to our players, though, because we are in another semi-final.'

On Ferreira and Ake
'If you see the number of games Ferreira's played over the last three years, to come in and play on a synthetic pitch against fast players, he did a good job.

'Ake is a good player and also put in a great performance, so I want to praise both players.'

On Rubin's performance
'We knew they were a good team. Our game-plan in the first half was to stop them because we knew [Bebras] Natcho and [Pablo] Orbaiz were key players for them.

'Afterwards they switched the play to the full-backs, which was a problem for us, but we did our best to defend against a good team.'

On the chances of Fernando Torres playing against Manchester City on Sunday
'He did really well, he's working hard and creating chances for himself and his team-mates. We need to check how Demba [Ba] is and after that we will decide.'

On reaching the last four of the competition
'It's another semi-final so I'm happy with the squad. It's not just 11 players on the pitch, it's down to the squad when you are still alive in these competitions.'