CHELSEA manager Rafael Benitez insists the future looks bright, despite last night’s rout of Nordsjaelland failing to prevent the Blues becoming the first Champions League holders to crash out at the group stage.
Fernando Torres ended his drought with a brace, while David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Juan Mata and Oscar also scored as Benitez finally registered his first victory in four matches since taking charge.
It was not enough to avoid elimination exactly 200 days after lifting the trophy, as Shakhtar Donetsk qualified ahead of Chelsea on head-to-head record, despite losing 1-0 at home to Juventus last night.
But Benitez said: “At the moment we can see they [Chelsea players] are not happy, but there is also the feeling they did well today, suggesting the future can be good.
“More than just winning was the way we won, and we saw character, commitment, intensity, chances and good play – everything you are looking for. I’m sure that playing at the level we played today we can do whatever we want.”
For the second successive season England will have just two clubs in the knockout stage, although, unlike Manchester City, Chelsea do at least have the dubious consolation of a place in the Europa League.
Chelsea’s early superiority was punctured by three penalties in eight minutes, all for handball. Petr Cech saved Nicolai Stokholm’s and Eden Hazard’s was stopped by Jesper Hansen, but Luiz thumped his home.
Torres ended his 12-hour goal drought just before half-time, finishing at the second attempt following a lucky ricochet off Hansen, but Joshua John pulled one back seconds after the restart when he lifted over Cech.
Chelsea put the result beyond doubt with three goals in 12 minutes – Cahill’s powerful header and two flowing, Hazard-led counter-attacks finished by Torres and Mata – before substitute Oscar despatched Mata’s through ball on 71 minutes.
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