Thursday, June 20, 2024

Benitez jeered as Chelsea hold Man City


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LONDON: Interim manager Rafael Benitez was given a hostile welcome by Chelsea fans angry at Roberto Di Matteo’s sacking when the Spaniard, serenaded with jeers, began his Stamford Bridge reign with a 0-0 draw against Manchester City on Sunday.

Chelsea axed the popular Di Matteo on Wednesday – hours after their Champions League defeat by Juventus which continued their poor run of results, and appointed the former Liverpool man for the rest of the season. Benitez’s arrival in the dugout shortly before kickoff was greeted by boos with home fans continuing to chant Di Matteo’s name throughout the first half.

Chelsea, now without a Premier League win in five games, improved after a sluggish opening period but created few openings to test City keeper Joe Hart.

City, knocked off top spot by Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, closed to within one point in second while Chelsea are fourth, five points behind the leaders.

“I know it will be a matter of time . This game is always at the maximum level but I will try to do my best and focus on doing my very best,” Benitez said.

“It is simple, you must try to do your best and try and win the games.

“It is positive to see the team working so hard as a team. But, still, I am not satisfied 100% as we must better attack better and be better in possession.

“The positive thing is that we improved in defence but our full-backs were high when we attacked. It is not easy [to rate my day] but I think maybe it was a ‘7’.”

Jermain Defoe’s double, including a superb first-half strike, and Gareth Bale’s goal just before the hour jolted Tottenham Hotspur out of the doldrums with a 3-1 London derby victory over West Ham United at White Hart Lane.

Southampton moved out of the bottom three with a 2-0 home victory over Newcastle United, ensuring an unhappy return to the south coast club for former Saints manager Alan Pardew, whose Newcastle side are struggling to match last season’s exploits which carried them to a fifth-place finish.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was also unable to get one over former club Swansea City on his return to Wales as the Anfield side continued their mediocre EPL start with a 0-0 draw. (Reuters)


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