Benitez eyes Japan benefits

  • Last Updated: December 9 2012, 14:13 GMT

Rafael Benitez will use Chelsea's trip to Japan to hone the way he wants them to play.

Rafael Benitez: Victory at Sunderland
Rafael Benitez: Victory at Sunderland

The Spaniard recorded the first Barclays Premier League victory of his interim reign at Stamford Bridge when the Blues followed up their 6-1 Champions League demolition of Nordsjaelland with a 3-1 victory at Sunderland.

Perhaps significantly, Fernando Torres, who established himself as one of the top frontmen in the world under his compatriot during their time together at Liverpool, added two more goals to the double he claimed in midweek to announce his return to form.

Benitez was quick to point out that the £50million striker's resurrection has gone hand in hand with a general improvement by the team, and he is confident there is more to come as he and he players head for the Far East and the FIFA Club World Cup.

He said: "The team still can improve, so it's a question of time. Training sessions before games, you have just two or three sessions and you cannot improve everything that you want to improve.

"But we will have more time, maybe, in Japan, three days in the hotel. We can talk, we can analyse more things and little by little, they will get to the level at which we want to see them."

Benitez, of course, knows the Club World Cup tournament well having taken Liverpool to the final in 2005 and won it with Inter Milan five years later.

Chelsea will face Mexican outfit CF Monterrey in Yokohama on Thursday and then the final or the third-place play off at the same venue on Sunday before heading home.

Benitez said: "It's important always to have these opportunities to win any trophy, and especially a trophy like this one.

"We played the final in Japan in 2005, we won two years ago. It was a great experience for me and hopefully it will be a great experience for our players.

"It will be a fantastic experience. Yes, we are concerned because we know it will be very difficult, but we are working very hard trying to organise everything properly.

"Maybe it will not be ideal because you don't have too much time and you have to go and you have to play a game in three days' time.

"But we will try to do our best, obviously. It's not easy. The doctor and the fitness coaches are a little bit crazy now, but we will try to do our best."

Chelsea headed for Japan after Saturday's game, but did so with midfielder Oriol Romeu on his way back to London to have the knee injury he suffered at the Stadium of Light assessed.

That was one of few disappointments for Benitez on a day when his side might have established an unassailable lead in a blistering start, and then did so by the 49th minute before having to weather a late fightback.

The visitors could have been 4-0 up inside 11 minutes, and might also have been facing 10 men after Black Cats midfielder Sebastian Larsson was fortunate to survive after pulling back Eden Hazard as he raced in on goal with only two minutes played.

However, they went in front when Torres started and finished a flowing move, and they doubled their advantage in first-half injury time when the Spain international converted a penalty - his first in the Premier League - after Ramires had been felled by Larsson.

Juan Mata made it 3-0 from close range after Torres' 49th-minute shot came back off the woodwork, and although Adam Johnson pulled a goal back with a 66th-minute strike and Craig Gardner hit the bar at the death, the points were safe.

There was further good news for Benitez when Frank Lampard appeared as a 79th-minute replacement for Hazard after his recovery from a calf injury, and the England international was delighted to be back.

Lampard told Chelsea TV: "I felt fine. I had to be careful this time because of a recurrence I had last time, and even though I have been desperate to get back, I have been putting in the hours in the gym to make sure it's got a strong base.

"From now, I should be fit, touch wood. It's all good with it."


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