BY JUSTIN FERGUSON
Since joining Chelsea on an interim basis in November, Rafael Benitez has been under fire from a portion of Blues fans. On Wednesday, the former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager told reporters that he has had enough.
Benitez announced that he will leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, saying that the Chelsea board made “a massive mistake” in giving him the title of interim manager.
“I am a professional and I will do my job,” Benitez said. “At the end of the season, I will leave.”
The manager then responded to his most vocal critics, a group of Chelsea fans. Blues supporters that made the trek to Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on Wednesday chanted against him—even though Chelsea won the FA Cup tie 2-0.
“I really feel disappointed with a group of fans, because they don’t do any favors to the team,” Benitez said. “They should support the team instead of wasting time doing banners or singing songs (against him).
“If not, the next year, they can carry on singing – but they will be in the Europa League, so they have to appreciate that they are not doing any favors to the rest of the fans and the players.”
Benitez’s squad defeated Championship side Middlesbrough on second half goals from Ramires and Victor Moses on Wednesday, setting up a FA Cup quarterfinal meeting with Manchester United.
Here are some more stories to wrap up a busy soccer Wednesday:
BAYERN DEFEATS DORTMUND 1-0 IN DFB-POKAL QUARTERFINAL
Bayern Munich successfully got its domestic cup revenge over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, knocking the defending champions out with a 1-0 quarterfinal victory.
Arjen Robben’s impressive distance goal was all that the runaway league leaders needed to dispatch their biggest rivals on Wednesday. The Dutch winger, who started in place of the suspended Franck Ribery, hit a 20-yard shot into the top corner of the net just before the halftime whistle.
The hosts put nine shots on target during the match, but Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller stayed strong and kept his side in the game. However, the Dortmund offense never seemed to get anything going against Bayern’s tough defense. Ilkay Gundogan’s long range effort, which Manuel Neuer saved with ease, would be the only shot on target for the visitors.
Bayern had not beaten Dortmund in its last six meetings, including a 5-2 loss in last season’s DFB-Pokal final. The club, which has not won its domestic cup since the 2009-10 season, will face either Freiburg, Wolfsburg or Stuttgart in the semifinal round.
ATLETICO SECURES 2-2 DRAW, WILL FACE REAL IN COPA DEL REY FINAL
Atletico Madrid played out a 2-2 draw in the second leg of its Copa del Rey semifinal with Sevilla on Wednesday, setting up an all-Madrid cup final.
Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao both scored in the opening half-hour for the visitors, pushing Atletico’s aggregate lead out to 4-1. Sevilla tried to start a comeback after Jesus Navas’s 39th minute goal, but defender Gary Medel’s red card in the second half killed the home side’s momentum.
Ivan Rakitic was able to push across a match equalizer in stoppage time, but the comeback dreams were killed off when Geoffrey Kondogbia saw red in the dying seconds of the match.
Atletico will face city rival Real for the Copa del Rey on May 18. The two Madrid clubs last faced each other for the trophy in 1992, with Atletico winning 2-0.
IBRAHIMOVIC SCORES TWICE, PSG WINS IN BECKHAM’S FIRST START
Paris Saint-Germain repeated its 2-0 performance from Sunday’s Ligue 1 win on Wednesday, beating rival Marseille in the Coupe de France’s Round of 16.
Most of the attention before the match was on David Beckham, who made his first start for the capital club in Wednesday’s win. The English midfielder made his debut with the club in Sunday’s win, playing a part in his side’s second goal.
But all eyes were on forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic by the end of Wednesday’s cup contest. The Swedish forward scored both of PSG’s goals, including a 64th minute penalty that sealed the win. Ibrahimovic now has 26 goals in all club competitions this season.
Beckham was substituted off for Christophe Jallet in the 85th minute.
UEFA denied a protest from Schalke 04 and declared Didier Drogba eligible to play in the Champions League for new club Galatasaray. (REPORT)
Juventus manager Antonio Conte will be questioned once more about his involvement in the Italian match-fixing scandal next month. (REPORT)
Former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola reportedly spied on some of his players’ personal lives during his tenure at the club. (REPORT)
Arsenal will honor former player Dennis Bergkamp with a statue outside of Emirates Stadium. (REPORT)
PSV forward Jeremain Lens has received a three-match ban for his post-game shoving match with Feyenoord defender Joris Mathijsen. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? What is your reaction to Benitez’s announcement? Think he will last at Chelsea until the end of the season? Excited for the all-Madrid final?
Share your comments below.