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Chelsea out to maul Black Cats

Chelsea 7 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Jan 27, 2013

Rosler credits divine intervention

FA Cup holders Chelsea fought back from a goal down, twice, to draw 2-2 at Brentford and force a replay back at Stamford Bridge.

Uwe Rosler invoked the Hand of God to explain Brentford's stunning performance against Chelsea after watching them go within seven minutes of one of the great FA Cup shocks.

In what has been a season of amazing upsets in cup competitions, Rosler's Bees almost topped them all this lunchtime after pushing the holders to the brink of a humiliating defeat at Griffin Park.

The League One high-fliers twice led the European champions but were denied by Fernando Torres's late equaliser, setting up a replay at Stamford Bridge next month.

Chelsea might have even snatched a cruel stoppage-time winner had Harlee Dean been penalised for handling Juan Mata's cross in the area, but Brentford boss Rosler insisted his side were good value for their 2-2 draw after outworking the visitors for much of the game.

"We deserved that luck from what we have put in compared to what Chelsea put in over the 90 minutes," the former Manchester City striker said. "There is a football god up there and he is on our side."

Brentford tore into Chelsea from almost the first whistle, disrupting the possession game interim manager Rafael Benitez admitted on Friday was their only way of playing and exploiting a tailwind to launch lightning breakaways.

A delighted Rosler insisted his side deserved to be further ahead at the break before it was their turn to play into a headwind.

He added: "They had a lot of play but didn't create clear-cut chances. We defended very well and worked very well against the ball. And to be five minutes before the end and leading 2-1, I'm slightly disappointed that we didn't win the game.

"But, overall, my players did fantastically. They earned the right to play at Stamford Bridge. It will be a great day for our supporters again, for our players and, financially, it will help enormously.

"Also, congratulations to my players for what they did today individally and collectively. That was top drawer."

Benitez said some of his Chelsea players had been running on empty going into this game and Rosler sensed they were there for the taking. The visitors simply did not look up for the fight in the first half on a pitch that was covered in sand in places.

"I would say the pitch was not in their favour," Rosler said. "When you saw what we were running and what they were running, I would say that we have put an enormous amount of work rate in."

Rosler admitted he had feared his players would "freeze".

"That was my biggest fear," he said, hailing the result as his greatest achievement in management. "I know how we can play. I know how much talent we have and how hungry we are.

"But my only fear was that we would get carried away a little bit by the occasion, by the media, by the full stadium - all unusual situations for my players and we have a young team in general as you could see."

The replay will net Brentford another bumper payday and Rosler said: "The chairman just came to me and said he was delighted. I said, 'Just make sure that we get something in the playing budget', and he said, 'Yes, don't worry. Don't worry'.

"I think there will be even more running for us and even more difficulties to overcome but this young group of players have surprised me so many times since I have been here and I wouldn't be surprised if we give them a game there as well."

Torres' equaliser might have rescued Chelsea and Benitez but it also added to the biggest fixture pile-up in the club's history. The holders are unable to host the replay until fifth-round weekend.

"Yes, it's quite difficult for us," Benitez said. "We play one game every three days so, if you understand, how can you train the day after? How can you train the day before games when you have the same players all the time?"

Benitez appeared more downbeat after the result than at any stage since taking charge, amid reports the club were reluctant to back him in the transfer window. The Spaniard nevertheless branded Chelsea's first-half display unacceptable.

"We made too many mistakes in the way we wanted to play," he said, although he praised the team's second-half "character".

Benitez insisted Chelsea were denied a "clear" penalty and once again defended his team selection and tactics amid renewed chants of "you don't know what you're doing" from supporters.

"I can guarantee that playing Mata, changing the game, we know what we are doing,'' he said, revealing he decided to pick Turnbull after Petr Cech picked up a knock.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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