x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Villas-Boas hits back at critics after Chelsea reach last 16

A 3-0 win over Valencia sees the London club through to the knockout stages, as group leaders, where they join the likes of Barcelona, AC Milan and Arsenal.

Didier Drogba, centre, celebrates scoring Chelsea's third goal against Valencia last night.
Didier Drogba, centre, celebrates scoring Chelsea's third goal against Valencia last night.

Andre Villas-Boas believes Chelsea's success last night gives a "slap in the face" to their critics.

The Chelsea manager avoided an early Champions League exit thanks to a Didier Drogba-inspired win over Valencia.

The 33-year-old broke the deadlock with a third-minute drive and, after Ramires prodded home at second, secured victory by neatly flicking in a Juan Mata through-ball in the second half.

Victory confirms progression to the knockout stage as Group E winners, which Villas-Boas hopes will quieten the naysayers.

"It helps to score straight away in the game," Villas-Boas said. "It gave the team the right emotional stance for the rest of the game and gave a full boost in confidence.

"To get the second not long afterwards made the team even more confident on what was happening.

"In terms of the result and what happens in us finishing top, it's fantastic. It's against all odds.

"Nobody, or anybody here, would have bet on us finishing top, but it's happened and it is very, very gratifying for the team.

"The team were excellent. It is a win of human values, of team spirit, solidarity, responsibility, strength of character, ability to take criticism, resilience, and this is a great win for Chelsea players.

"They deserve a respect that they don't get.

"We've been continually chased by different kinds of people, but today we've given everybody (those critics) a slap in the face."

Villas-Boas has seen his squad selection, philosophy and position come under increasing scrutiny recently.

The Portuguese manager believes the column inches dedicated to Chelsea is part of a wider "persecution" and called it "out of this world".

Asked whether he detected anger among players, Villas-Boas retorted: "No, I just think the reaction has been over the top.

"There's only one team in the country at the moment, and that's Man City.

"I hope they qualify sincerely, but the approach to them is if they qualify they qualify, and if they don't they don't.

"We don't get that margin from you guys. That's not the same as with us. I will never criticise your editorial choices, but it is the reality.

"People take perspectives that are out of this world, from criticising our players to criticising choices.

"We see a Manchester United defender [Gary Neville] today say in the preparations for the game and says things like 'I don't want to be one of the Chelsea players today', 'I couldn't play this game' and 'It is a difficult game for them'.

"This is out of this world for me, I don't believe this.

"It continues the persecution of Chelsea, continues aggression to one club.

"We have become your target, we have to accept it. Tomorrow, it's unfortunate for you guys because you'll have to report on a brilliant win for Chelsea and finishing first.

"Tomorrow is difficult for you guys. I'll never pick a fight with you guys."