The interim manager guided his side to a vital win over Manchester United to take pole position in the race for Champions League football.MANCHESTER -- Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez believes Wednesday’s clash against Tottenham will be a "final for both teams" as his side closes in on a place in next season's Champions League.
A win against Spurs at Stamford Bridge will guarantee the Blues a top-four finish thanks to their far superior goal difference, following their dramatic victory at Manchester United on Sunday through Juan Mata's deflected 87th-minute strike.
"Wednesday will be a final for both teams," Benitez told reporters. "We are in the driving seat and hopefully we can get three points against Tottenham. If we win we’ll be in the Champions League, but obviously Tottenham are a good team.
"It’s still crucial for us, but it’s even more important to them. I think there will be a great atmosphere in Stamford Bridge."
Chelsea took advantage of a lackluster performance from United to leapfrog over Arsenal and jump back into third spot.
"It’s one step forward and an important step forward," Benitez said of the win. |It’s massive for us because we knew we had to get six or seven points to guarantee the top four.
"I think United, after winning the title, have been a little more relaxed. You can understand after winning the title that some players didn’t give 100 percent. When you have to win and you have to be in the top four you put something more."
Mata's winner appeared to be going wide before flicking in off the inside of Phil Jones' leg, but Benitez hailed his all-round play during a game lacking in real quality.
"Mata could have been player of the year for everything he did for us," he said. "He’s scored goals, made assists and been a very influential player in the games."