Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez hails 'character and quality' in victory over Stoke

The Blues' boss was delighted with victory over the "physical and intense" Potters and declared himself happy with the atmosphere around the club despite tensions in the stands
Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez hailed his side's "character and quality" as the Blues recorded their sixth consecutive away victory in domestic competitions after defeating Stoke 4-0 on Saturday.

Two own goals from Jonathan Walters either side of half time set Chelsea on their way before Frank Lampard scored his 194th Chelsea goal and Eden Hazard fired a sensational 25-yard strike to seal the points, pleasing the Spanish boss.

“I think it was a difficult game in the first half, and a great game in the second half,” he told reporters.

“We knew it would be tough, Tony Pulis is doing a great job so we knew they could be physical and intense and we were ready for that.

“The goal [first own goal from Jon Walters] changed it a little bit as it brought them forward and they left more space, so with the quality of our players and their movement we were controlling the game.

“My players have shown great character and quality at the same time.”

Benitez’s exceptional away record has helped keep Chelsea in the hunt for a top three place as they continue to struggle at home with two defeats in their last two matches, something the Spaniard believes is down to the approach of away teams at Stamford Bridge.

“I don’t think it’s the way that we play,” he added.

“Against Swansea there was two individual mistakes but we created a lot of chances and we could have scored a lot of goals.

“Swansea had plenty of possession so they had control of the game, they were deep, waiting and playing counter attacks so if you don’t have the space it’s more difficult to play your football.

“Obviously you have to be more precise and sometimes if the other team is doing a good job in defence you will make more mistakes.

“When you play away the other team is coming against you, you have more space and the level of our players and the movement they’ve got it’s difficult to manage them [for the opposition].”

And the Spaniard was quick to insist that there is a positive attitude within the club despite murmurings of discontent in the stands. The travelling support again sang anti-Benitez songs and held banners depicting a p45 for the unpopular manager, but he said all he could control was the on-field displays.

“I think you have to realise, and it’s difficult if you are not watching the training sessions, that the team is doing well,” he continued.

“The players are happy, they are training really well and you can see they try to perform.

“The staff, all the people around are doing a great job so I am quite happy with them, the atmosphere inside is really good.

“When we go and play the games we cannot control what is going on outside the pitch but we will try to do our best on the pitch and hopefully it will be easier.”

Such inconsistencies have seen Chelsea fall behind the two Manchester clubs, but Benitez insisted he is taking each game as it comes.

“I think we have to approach every game like a challenge, try to win and see where we finish,” he said.

“The Premier League is a difficult competition with a lot of good teams and we have to think about the next three points and see where we are in the table.

“But I’m not worried about every week where we are, we cannot be every week be thinking crisis, no crisis, that is not the case.

“We are scoring more goals than in the past, we are conceding half of the goals the team were conceding in the past, we have more balance and that is the way to sustain the performance of the team at this level.”

Stoke boss Tony Pulis felt disappointed to lose the 17-game unbeaten home record, particularly with a Premier League record home loss, something he felt was an unfair reflection of his side's efforts.

“We’re disappointed, the second goal killed us,” he said.

“The goals were poor that we conceded, [I’m] really disappointed with the penalty as well.

“I know Robert’s touched him or got his hand on his shoulder but Mata’s legs just collapse, I thought it was a soft penalty.

“But having said that Jon gets two own goals, a penalty and a wonder goal from Hazard, and to be honest for us to lose 4-0 I don’t think that was a 4-0 today.

“It just didn’t got for us today,” he added

“The referee gave us a penalty for Matty [Etherington] at 1-0, but it is offside and it’s a good call from the lady linesman, but if that goes for you the game's 1-1 and we’ve got the impetus.”