Benitez off to rocky start with fans

Sun, Nov 25, 2012, 00:00

Premier League round-up:Rafael Benitez was given a nightmare welcome from Chelsea fans today as the European champions ground out a dour goalless draw with Manchester City.

Former Liverpool boss Benitez was treated like a pariah in his first match in charge of the Blues but did manage to mastermind their first clean sheet in 11 matches and deny City top spot in the Premier League.

Sergio Aguero wasted the best chance of a turgid game in driving rain, which the visitors had the better of in the first half but the home side the second.

The draw moved unbeaten champions City to within a point of new leaders Manchester United, leaving Chelsea fourth.

Benitez has shored up the Blues’ defence during his four days in charge but he has his work cut out to get them playing the scintillating football demanded by the watching Roman Abramovich - and to get Fernando Torres scoring.

But that is nothing compared to winning over the fans on today’s evidence.

Chelsea’s stadium announcer was drowned out by jeers as he appealed for calm in order to pay tribute to former Chelsea boss Dave Sexton, whose death was confirmed today.

There were also expletive-laden chants of “you’re not wanted here”, and signs reading ‘Benitez out’, coupled with songs and banners hailing the sacked Roberto Di Matteo.

Liverpoolmanager Brendan Rodgers was unable to get one over his former side Swansea Cityon his return to Wales as the Anfield side continued their mediocre Premier League start with a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium.

Liverpool, anchored in mid-table with just three league wins from 13 games, created the better openings in a lively encounter.

Teenage winger Raheem Sterling rattled the crossbar with a rasping volley on 33 minutes and 60 seconds later the visitors had a goal disallowed when Luis Enrique, who slid in to turn home Luis Suarez’s cross, was denied by the offside flag.

Swansea midfielder Leon Britton admitted after the game that the side needed time to settle down following the summer departure of Rodgers and the arrival of Michael Laudrup as manager.

Britton said: “We’re doing well. At the start of the season we got new players and management and it takes a bit of time to settle down.

“It was great to see Brendan Rodgers, I owe him a lot for bringing me back here.

“I think it was quite a tactical game, with two teams who like to pass the ball and get it down. It was tough out there.”

West Hamfans taunted Tottenhamabout the stabbing of one of their fans in Rome during a fiery London derby which was settled by a fine brace from Jermain Defoe in a 3-1 victory for the home side at White Hart Lane.

Defoe scored either side of half-time to sink his former club and Gareth Bale also found the net to give Tottenham a confident and morale-boosting win, but the contest was marred by offensive chanting from the away end at the north London ground.

West Ham fans chanted “Viva Lazio” and sang the name of former Lazio and Hammers man Paolo Di Canio on several occasions, something that was hard to stomach for the home supporters who witnessed the horrifying attack on Spurs fans in Rome that ended with one man in hospital for stab wounds to his leg and head.

The Hammers fans were also heard hissing on at least three occasions during the game, which is interpreted to mimick the sound of gas released into the death chambers at concentration camps during World War Two.

For a club that has a strong affinity with the Jewish community, Tottenham’s supporters are bound to be offended by the actions of the travelling support, especially after Lazio fans chanted “Juden Tottenham” during Thursday’s 0-0 draw in Rome.

Southamptonmanager Nigel Adkins denied predecessor Alan Pardew a winning return to St Mary's as the south coast club impressively despatched Newcastle2-0.

Pardew was Saints boss for just over a year and led the club to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy title, but says he was “treated harshly” and exited the club after just 13 months.

The 51-year-old made his return to Southampton for the first time this afternoon, although back-to-back promotions means the hosts are a much different proposition to the League One club he left behind 27 months ago.

Adkins oversaw that spell of success and, after his position came under early season scrutiny, oversaw a second successive win today.

Saints edged the first half and took a deserved lead through captain Adam Lallana, who linked with Jason Puncheon to set up Gaston Ramirez for their second goal after the break.

Newcastle were unable to find a response, meaning they have won just one of their eight Premier League matches since Pardew was awarded an eight-year deal, as Saints earned a first clean sheet of the season and three points to propel them out of the relegation zone.

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