By Wayne Veysey at Stamford Bridge
Roberto Di Matteo described the end of Fernando Torres’ goal drought as a reward for the long-suffering Chelsea striker’s effort and application.
The interim Blues manager said he did not want to take any credit for Torres’ match-winning display in the 5-2 FA Cup quarter-final win over Leicester City, which included two second-half goals and two assists.
It brought to an end a miserable spell of five months and 1541 minutes without a goal for the Spaniard, who attributed his new-found zeal afterwards to having the confidence of the caretaker boss.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Di Matteo said: “I wouldn’t want to take any credit for that. It is down to the boy’s immense work-rate and effort on a daily basis and on the pitch when he plays.
“He is not only a very good player but a very good guy as well. I have been speaking to individuals and that includes Torres as well.
“The whole team, the club and the supporters are all happy for Fernando. He works so hard for the team and he is a great team player. You get rewarded in life when you work hard.
“Hopefully his confidence is going to be very high now. I didn’t mind when he wasn’t scoring. We play and win as a team and that is all that matters to me.
“Everybody was happy today. We had a good game, we won, we scored many goals and we are through to the next round. I haven’t had the chance to speak to him yet but he looked happy, yes.
“Every game we have won so far has given the individuals and the team as a whole more confidence. Every win cements that. Nobody speaks about [Salomon] Kalou. He scored today and had a very good game.”
Di Matteo was delighted that Chelsea became the first club to secure a semi-final spot in this season’s FA Cup and extend his run to four consecutive wins since replacing Andre Villas-Boas at the helm.
“It was a wonderful team performance reflected in the scoreline,” said the Italian. “We wanted to get to the next round and I thought we did very well.
“We are scoring goals and seem more solid as a team. We are happy that we managed to overcome every hurdle so far. You don’t really have time to enjoy the wins. When the next game comes we are happy to be in the semi-final and now we focus on Manchester City [next Wednesday].”
Di Matteo revealed that he had asked Gary Cahill beforehand whether he wanted to play given the trauma involving his former Bolton Wanderers team-mate Fabrice Muamba.
He said: “We checked with him before the game. He is obviously shaken like the whole football community. He managed to focus on the game and he had a very good game as well. All our thoughts are with Fabrice Muamba.”
Di Matteo also said that skipper John Terry and Ashley Cole, who were both left out of the Chelsea squad as a precaution on Sunday, should be available for the trip to Man City.