LONDON: Rafa Benitez watched his Chelsea side beat Middlesbrough 2-0 in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday night and then announced he would leave at the end of the season, delivering an emotional outburst that included a swipe at the club’s fans and hierarchy.
As with most games in his turbulent reign that began in November, Benitez was barracked by a section of supporters at Riverside Stadium.
An unconvincing win was sealed by goals from Ramires and Victor Moses in the second half, setting up an eye-catching quarterfinal against Manchester United at Old Trafford on March 10.
A defiant Benitez wasn’t in any mood to celebrate after the match, however.
“They should concentrate on supporting the team,” Benitez said of the club’s fans. “In the end, they are not making any favors to the club, to the rest of the fans and the players.
“They put pressure on the players and don’t create a good atmosphere at Stamford Bridge. They have to realize they rare making a big mistake. ... it would be much better to have a good atmosphere.” Referring to the club’s hierarchy, Benitez added: “It’s because someone made a mistake. They put my title (as) ‘interim manager,’ and I will leave at the end of the season.” Benitez had spent the build-up to the match playing down media speculation of a fierce confrontation with players at a training session, with John Terry widely reported to have been involved in the alleged row.
Terry, rested for the 2-0 loss at Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday, was recalled as one of eight changes to the starting lineup but a team containing several fringe players was unconvincing in the first half, failing to trouble home goalkeeper Jason Steele. The defending champions improved after the break and Ramires opened the scoring in the 51st minute by curling in a shot from the edge of the area that took a slight deflection of Fernando Torres.
Moses sealed victory by tapping home in the 73rd minute at the end of a well-worked move. The result was better than the performance, though, with Chelsea sluggish for the most part. Torres again endured another miserable night up front, showing no sign of a return to form.
It keeps Chelsea, the winner of the FA Cup for four of the past six seasons, in the hunt for silverware on two fronts this season. The team also through to the last 16 of the Europa League.
In Frankfurt, Germany, Arjen Robben scored late in the first half for Bayern Munich to beat title-holder Borussia Dortmund 1-0 on Wednesday night and reach the German Cup semifinals.
Dortmund beat Bayern 5-2 in last season’s final and won its second consecutive Bundesliga championship. But this has been Bayern’s season and it has a 17-point lead over Dortmund in the Bundesliga.
Robben curled in a shot from the edge of the penalty area after Dortmund lost possession, giving Bayern its first win over Dortmund after five straight losses and one draw.
Stuttgart also advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2007 with a comfortable 2-0 victory over second-division Bochum.
Christian Gentner scored with a deflected shot in the 18th and Vedad Ibisevic notched his first goal of 2013 in the 83rd to secure Stuttgart’s victory.
Bayern and Stuttgart, which won the Bundesliga in 2007, join Wolfsburg and Freiburg in the semifinals.
Atletico in Copa final
In Sevilla, Spain, Atletico Madrid advanced to a Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid after holding Sevilla to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday, sealing a 4-3 victory on aggregate in the semifinals.
First half goals by Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao proved decisive in the second leg match, following a 2-1 home win last month.
Costa opened the scoring after six minutes, wrong-footing three defenders before beating goalkeeper Antonio Bastos with a shot inside the far post.
Costa then raced up the left flank and made a precise cross to the center of the penalty area for Falcao to score his 63rd goal for Atletico in the 29th minute.
Sevilla winger Jesus Navas pulled one back with a spectacular long shot in the 39th, while Ivan Rakitic equalized in injury time.