Rafa Benitez booed by Chelsea fans in 1st game
LONDON (AP) — Rafa Benitez was greeted with jeers from Chelsea fans, and the Blues were held to a 0-0 draw Sunday by Manchester City in his first game as manager.
A forgettable match lacking in clear-cut scoring chances was notable for the scenes that unfolded in the stands at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea fans welcomed Roberto Di Matteo's successor with boos.
"My experience in England is that when the fans are singing I don't understand what they say," said Benitez, who managed Liverpool from 2004-10.
After leading Chelsea to its first Champions League title, Di Matteo was fired Wednesday and replaced by Benitez, who was hired as interim manager for the rest of the season. Benitez's introduction before the match was greeted with persistent jeers, and the public address announcer had to plead with the fans to mute their dissent so tribute could be paid to former manager Dave Sexton, who died Saturday.
After a minute's applause, the Chelsea fans turned on Benitez again with chants of, "We don't want you here!" while "Rafa Out" banners appeared in the stadium.
"How many people do you need to write a banner? One," Benitez said. "And maybe two to hold it."
Fernando Torres returned to Chelsea's starting lineup but the misfiring forward, prolific under Benitez at Liverpool, squandered his only meaningful chance in the second half.
"You could see he was trying hard — the team has to help Fernando create more chances to score goals," Benitez said.
Chelsea (7-2-4) dropped to fourth below West Bromwich Albion (8-3-2), while City (8-0-5) remained second behind Manchester United (10-3).
In north London, American midfielder Clint Dempsey set up Gareth Bale's goal in the 58th minute of Tottenham's 3-1 win over West Ham, which ended a three-game losing streak for Spurs.
Moments after Dempsey's shot hit the crossbar, he flicked ahead to Bale on a quick move. Jermain Defoe scored in the 44th and 64th minutes, and Andy Carroll got the visitors' goal in the 82nd, his first goal in 11th league appearances since he was loaned from Liverpool in August.
Tottenham's match was overshadowed by more distasteful chants directed at Spurs.
"I prefer not to mar the performance with a situation like this," Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said.
Southampton climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win over Newcastle on goals by Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez.
BARCELONA (AP) — Lionel Messi scored twice, raising his total for the year to 82 goals, and Barcelona won 4-0 at Levante to open a season-high, 11-point lead over Real Madrid in the Spanish league.
Messi scored in the 47th and 52nd minutes, both times off passes from Andres Iniesta, who then scored in the 57th and set up Cesc Fabregas' goal in the 63rd.
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