• Europa League

Benitez frustrated by 'soft' penalty decision

ESPN staff
March 7, 2013

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez was left frustrated by the decision to award Steaua Bucharest the 34th-miunte penalty that led to their winning goal in the European champions.

A poor performance by the Blues in their Europa League last-16 first leg was punctuated by Raul Rusescu's spot-kick, converted after he was deemed to have been pulled down by Ryan Bertrand - who was booked for his troubles.

The 1-0 victory for Steaua leaves Chelsea needing to win by at least two goals at Stamford Bridge to guarantee progress, but Benitez felt that his side should not have been left chasing a deficit at all.

"I think it was very soft. To give a penalty in this situation, and especially when you have so many referees in their positions, it is soft,'' Benitez told ESPN.

"You cannot change the situation but it is very soft. If you give the penalty, why not the (red) card? Strange.''

Benitez thought Chelsea were the better team on the night but rued their lack of a cutting edge in the final third, meaning they have it all to do at Stamford Bridge in the return leg to keep their hopes in this competition alive.

"I think it was a difficult game,'' he said. "The pitch was not the best but we were disappointed because we conceded a goal because of a soft penalty and I thought their keeper made one or two good saves.

"It was difficult because in the counter attack they were dangerous but our keeper was not making any saves. I was a little bit disappointed because I felt we could have scored and now we have to do everything at Stamford Bridge.

"It will be difficult because they are quite organised, they work very hard and they can counter-attack. But we have confidence that we will do well at Stamford Bridge.''

Petr Cech echoed Benitez's comments, believing the Blues deserved something from the game, but the goalkeeper is confident ahead of the second leg in London next week.

"This is not the result we want to get away from home in the first leg but to be fair we had better chances than them,'' Cech said. "I hardly made a save all game. They had a penalty and they scored from there and they won. We're just disappointed we didn't score.

"We made it hard for the return leg but 1-0 is not the result you can't overcome.''

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