FA Cup Quarter finals – Manchester United 2-2 Chelsea
Sir Alex (Manchester United):
“We’re lucky to still be in the cup,” Sir Alex admitted on MUTV. “We just ran out of legs and Chelsea were far the better team in the second half. But I can’t be critical of my side because the running they had to do on Tuesday night, against a really top side in Real Madrid, had its bearing on today’s result, no doubt about that.
“The two full-backs, Rafael and Patrice [Evra], are knackered and the two central midfielders tired badly. We kept giving the ball away and it made it a long day for us, going from one penalty box and back to our own.”
Few observers would have expected a replay after seeing Javier Hernandez and then Wayne Rooney add to their growing collections of goals against Chelsea, and the Reds might have been even further in front with a bit more fortune.
“We could have been 4-0 up in the first 25 minutes of the match,” remarked Sir Alex. “The two strikers’ goalscoring has been great this year – that’s Wayne on 15 now for the season and Chicharito on 16. But I think we needed that lead because I could detect towards the end of the first half that the players’ legs were starting to go.”
“The replay is not a problem for us,” insisted the manager. “We’ve got plenty of time for it as we have no European games. I don’t know when it’s going to be played mind you, probably May because we’ve got the international break coming up! But the only thing we can say is we’re still in the cup.”
Rafa Benitez (Chelsea) said:
‘We knew it would be tough and anything could happen. But we saw the character and reaction I expected. It means the players are working very hard and ready for the challenge. Until the end we will be fighting.
‘I think we should have won the game. In the first half we made two mistakes and conceded two goals but had good chances on the counter and in the second half were on top. We had good chances until the end so it was a pity but it was a good game.
‘In the second half we regained a lot of balls and played good football. We had great team spirit, working hard with passion and commitment and everything was possible.
‘The team deserved the winning goal. All the players gave 100 per cent, and for me that is enough.’
We knew we had to change something and at the same time we knew Hazard is a player with quality that could make the difference. Obi had fresh legs. Frank gave 100 per cent, and you have to manage the squad. I was really pleased with the reaction of the players.