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Benitez praises Blues

20 December 2012

Chelsea hammer Leeds 5-1 to set up Capital Cup semi-final against Swansea; giant-killers Bradford to face Aston Villa in the other semi.

European champions Chelsea are justifiably favourites to win the Capital One Cup after setting themselves up with a semi-final against Swansea City with what manager Rafa Benitez described as an "amazing" second half performance to win 5-1 at Leeds United after being a goal behind at the interval.

Three days after losing the World Club Cup final to Brazilian team Corinthians in Japan, the Blues made light of their arduous trip to the Far East for the four-team tournament as they tore their npower Championship opponents to shreds.

Leeds performed well in the first half and led through a fine goal by Luciano Becchio, but Juan Mata's equaliser immediately after the break was followed by goals from Branislav Ivanovic, Victor Moses, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres as the Premier League class of last season's Champions League winners shone through. 

Benitez said: "I'm pleased with the way we won, I'm pleased because coming back from Japan with jet lag, without sleeping too much, the players are tired but still the football was fantastic. The first half was good, but the second half was amazing."

Chelsea have now scored an incredible 16 goals in the three Capital One Cup ties it has taken them to reach the two-leg semi-finals, thrashing Wolverhampton Wanderers 6-0 and then beating Manchester United 5-4 before demolishing Leeds.

They will now be expected to overcome Premier League rivals Swansea and then contest the Wembley final against either another top flight team in Aston Villa or the competition's shock semi-finalists, npower League 2 side Bradford City.

But former Valencia, Liverpool and Inter Milan manager Benitez, who took over at Chelsea from the sacked Roberto Di Matteo last month, is looking no further ahead than what he reckons will be a tough tie against Swansea.

"When you go to a semi-final," he said, "any team would be difficult. Swansea are doing well, they are a good team who try to play football and it will be interesting. Because we are so close to the final, the motivation will be there for everyone."

Can Benitez lead Chelsea, who are already out of contention to retain their Champions League crown and well off the pace in the Premier League title race, to what would be the club's fifth League Cup triumph? 

"To win trophies is important for any manager," he said, "but the first thing we have to do is get past Swansea. It is always our experience that in the final, it doesn't matter the name of the [opposing] team, so now we will concentrate on the semi-final and hopefully after that we talk about the final."

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