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Benitez bullish after win over Stoke

Under-fire Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez was in a defiant mood after his team’s 4-0 thrashing of Stoke City on Saturday.

Jonathan Walters netted two own-goals while Frank Lampard got on the scoresheet from the penalty spot and Eden Hazard also struck at the Britannia Stadium.

It was the first time in their past 18 league games that Stoke had tasted defeat at home, and Benitez said his players were beginning to understand each other better.

“I was really pleased with the first half because I think we were working so hard against a very good team and they were pushing and pushing and still we were doing well in defence,” he told Sky Sports.

“Obviously we were much better in the second half. They were more open, we had more space and we were using our quality.

“I think the understanding between players was much better so everything was going well for us.”

Benitez was again under pressure after Chelsea’s 2-0 loss to Swansea City in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.

The former Liverpool manager said his team just needed to string together a few wins to get the fans onside.

“We have a really good staff at Chelsea who work very hard. The players are happy and the atmosphere is good,” Benitez said.

“Obviously you can’t control the results but in terms of the atmosphere at the club, it’s fantastic.

“Hopefully we can win one or two more games and people will realise we’re progressing well. If you analyse the stats you will see that we are scoring more goals and conceding less than in the past.

“Things are going well.”

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis said he was confident Walters, who also missed a late penalty, would bounce back.

“Walters is in a good football club. His football club looks after its players. He doesn’t have to worry at all,” Pulis said.

“Irrespective of what people say outside the place, the place is a good football club. It’s a family, we treat it as a family and Jon will be fine.”

Sat 12 January, 2013
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