x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Five-star Chelsea defy travel schedule to rout rivals Leeds in English League Cup

Rafael Benitez praised the resilience of his players after they came back from a goal down to win 5-1 against Leeds United and book a place in the cup semi-finals.

Chelsea players celebrate Fernando Torres' goal against Leeds in the English League Cup.
Chelsea players celebrate Fernando Torres' goal against Leeds in the English League Cup.

Rafael Benitez hailed the performance of his side in overcoming jet lag to record a 5-1 victory over old rivals Leeds United to book a semi-final place in the Capital One Cup.

Goals from Juan Mata, Branislav Ivanovic, Victor Moses, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres ensured Chelsea a place against Swansea City in the semi finals next month.

The interim manager, whose side only returned from Japan on Monday afternoon following their Club World Cup final defeat, said afterwards: "I'm pleased with the way that we won and pleased because we came back from Japan with jet lag, sleeping too much, players tired and still the performance was fantastic.

"The first half was very good, the second half was amazing. Coming back we needed to see the fitness of the players and we had to decide to change some of them, so to have this reaction, being mentally ready and after working so hard and playing so well, I'm really pleased with them."

Searching questions had been asked of the Spaniard after Chelsea took just five points from four English Premier League games since he replaced Roberto Di Matteo late last month.

Luciano Becchio had put Leeds ahead with eight minutes of the first half remaining, the Argentine put through by Jerome Thomas to score his 15th of the season.

Just a minute into the second half Chelsea equalised, with Mata's crisp, first-time hit off Moses' lay-off getting under goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown's outstretched hands.

Ivanovic put Chelsea into the lead on the 64th minute, nodding home a Frank Lampard corner, before Victor Moses fired home a low shot to make it 3-1.

Hazard tucked away his one-on-one with Ashdown after a defence splitting pass from David Luiz, before Torres completed the rout with a pass from Hazard.

Attention now turns to the semi-final with Swansea for Benitez, who admitted: "To win trophies is important for any manager and the first thing is to concentrate on the semi-final and after the final we can talk about what it means."

Warnock felt his side had been well worth their half-time lead after Becchio had stroked home winger Jerome Thomas' fine cross, but that Chelsea were full of world-class players.

"I'm disappointed because I thought if Tom Lees' header had gone in just before half-time, it would have made it 2-0 and very difficult for them, but overall we made it a difficult night for them and played some good football," Warnock said.

"The noise volume when we scored, I've never heard anything like it. If Leeds sort themselves out ...

"But a slip cost us the equaliser and quickly after it you've got world-class players relieved to actually be drawing a game they should be 2-0 down in and then that was the end of the story really.

"We kept going for an hour, but after that their quality shone through."


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