CHELSEA manager Rafael Benitez insists they will still challenge for four trophies this year despite seeing his side surrender a fourth piece of silverware yesterday in the Club World Cup final.
Paolo Guerrero’s 69th-minute header earned Brazil’s Corinthians the title in Yokohama, where a miserable occasion for the Blues was compounded by the late sending-off of defender Gary Cahill.
It was another missed chance for the west Londoners, following their defeats in the European Super Cup and the Community Shield, and the holders’ elimination from the Champions League at the group stage.
But interim boss Benitez insisted his team were still improving and in with a chance of accomplishing an unlikely Premier League-FA Cup-Capital One Cup-Europa League quadruple.
“We are improving, for me, every day and every week. Hopefully it will be the same over the next week and it will be easier to keep winning games,” said the Spaniard, who won the cup in 2010 with Inter Milan.
“We carry on trying to be strong, mentally. We’ll have some [disappointed] hours after the defeat but, after that, we have to be ready. We had five trophies to win. Now we have four to challenge for. But still we have to improve and we know the way to do that.”
Cahill, who is set to be suspended for Wednesday’s Capital One Cup quarter-final at Leeds, accused Corinthians forward Emerson of deliberately getting him sent off in the 89th minute.
“He lashed out with his arm and hit me in the face. I didn’t roll around on the floor for five minutes holding my head,” said the centre-back.
“I got up, reacted and tapped him in the shin. He felt the need to go down, roll around on the floor for about five times holding his face. It wouldn’t have been enough to knock over my one-year-old daughter.”
Striker Fernando Torres missed Chelsea’s best chance to equalise five minutes from time when he prodded straight at goalkeeper Cassio after the ball fell to him eight yards out.
Guerrero was more clinical mid-way through the second half when Danilo’s shot was blocked by Cahill, and he reacted quickest to head the loose ball past three Chelsea defenders on the goal-line.
The Blues are the first Champions League winners to fail to win the Club World Cup – contested by the winners of football’s six continental confederations – since 2006.
It was another uncomfortable result for Benitez, who took four matches to register his first win but appeared to have turned the corner with three consecutive victories.