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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

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Cech: Our season has not been great

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has contradicted manager Rafa Benitez by conceding that his side are "not having such a fantastic season".

• Blog: Ba magic inspires Chelsea

Interim boss Benitez claimed his team were in the midst of a great campaign on Monday after they sealed their passage to the FA Cup semi-finals with a 1-0 win against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Cech, though, believes the level of achievement this season has not been good enough for the reigning European champions.

However, the Czech Republic international is convinced a sparkling end to the campaign can make up for their early exit from the Champions League and an aborted Premier League title challenge, as he looks forward to Thursday's Europa League quarter-final first leg against Rubin Kazan.

"We are not having such a fantastic season, but this win [against Manchester United] shows we can still beat the top teams and it gives us confidence to play another game on Thursday," Cech told the club's official website.

"It's always important to beat big teams for the confidence. Any FA Cup progress is important for your season. We wanted to book a place at Wembley, we had great opposition and it was a great match. We are happy we managed to win the game.

"We seem to have a special relationship with the FA Cup. We treat it with respect, every season we try to win it and we get something back. We have another tough game against Manchester City, but it's a semi-final so you expect a tough game."

Meanwhile, Cech revealed he has received many plaudits following his fine save to deny Javier Hernandez an equalising goal at Stamford Bridge on Monday.

"It was a great ball from the wing and Javier did well to direct the ball into the goal," he said. "I went as fast as I could and left my left arm to do the job. I tried to cover as much space as I could and luckily I was able to reach it.

"I knew before the cross came that Hernandez was there, so I knew I'd have to be really quick to get there, that's what allowed me to make the save. You need to have awareness of the people around you as it helps you make the right decision.

"It was an important moment in the game, I'm sure a lot of people could already see the ball in the goal, so I was glad I got enough on it to push it over.

"I got a few messages from other players and 'keepers, it's great that people can appreciate the save. Even in the first half with the shot from Hernandez, when the ball moved away from me, it was a scary moment and it took a lot of energy for me to kick the ball away, so I'm pleased with the way I played."

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