Benitez points finger at Ferguson after old hostilities resurface

Julian Harris
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CHELSEA manager Rafael Benitez reopened his long-standing feud with Sir Alex Ferguson last night, accusing the Manchester United boss of snubbing him after their FA Cup quarter-final ended in a draw.

Second-half goals from Eden Hazard and Ramires earned a replay for the Blues after United had taken a two-goal lead in the first period through Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney.

Asked why the managers had not taken part in the traditional handshake, Benitez said: “I was waiting [for him], I was in the way. I have some education; because I know a lot of people are watching, I know what I have to do. Ask him.”

The pair have had a fractious relationship since Benitez took the reins at Liverpool in 2004. In 2009 Benitez famously listed a series of incidents that he said were facts indicating preferential treatment from the football authorities towards Ferguson.

Eighteen months later Ferguson poured more fuel onto the fire when Benitez left Liverpool, saying that “everyone [had] expected” the Spaniard to be sacked.

Sections of Chelsea’s away support heckled Benitez yesterday after he substituted off Frank Lampard and Victor Moses for John Obi Mikel and Hazard in the 52nd minute, yet the manager attributed the goals to his decisions.

“Obviously Hazard is a player with talent, he can make a difference any time,” he said.

“In the second half with Mikel, Ramires had to go [forward] and was good going forward.” Chelsea had fallen behind just five minutes into the game when a superb, long Michael Carrick pass was finished by a looping header from Hernandez. And six minutes later the lead was doubled when Rooney curled a free-kick into the box that missed everyone and bounced inside the far post.

On 25 minutes Petr Cech got a hand to a David Luiz header that was accidentally directed at his own goal.

But after the break Chelsea rallied, and near the hour mark Hazard curled a right-footed effort in from 20 yards. With their tails up, there was little surprise 10 minutes later when Ramires turned Jonny Evans and found the bottom corner of the net.

■ Millwall or Blackburn v Wigan

■ Manchester City v Manchester United or Chelsea

Fixtures will be played on the weekend of 13/14 April