Chelsea's Rafael Benitez deserves credit - Gary Cahill

Chelsea celebrate winning the Europa League

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez deserves credit for his work at the club, says Blues defender Gary Cahill.

Ex-Liverpool boss Benitez guided Chelsea to victory in the Europa League and they are virtually assured of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

But the Spaniard has remained unpopular with a section of Blues fans since replacing Roberto Di Matteo.

"We're better off in our league position as it stands and we have just won a trophy," said Cahill.

"You have got to give him credit for what he has done," added the England international.

Benitez led Chelsea to a 2-1 win against Benfica in the Europa League final at the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday.

Only a mathematical miracle will prevent the Blues qualifying for next season's Champions League and victory against Everton at Stamford Bridge on Sunday will clinch third place in the top flight.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech agrees with Cahill that Benitez, who took over from Di Matteo in November until the end of the season, deserves praise.

"Ever since he came, we said we had to improve," said Cech. "He wanted to try and win a trophy and we've done that."

Benitez also guided the Blues to the Club World Cup final - which they lost to South American champions Corinthians - and the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and League Cup since arriving at Stamford Bridge.

The 53-year-old, who admits he wants to manage another English club next season, said he was proud of his side's achievements.

"We tried to finish in the top three and got to two finals, winning one of them, and two semi-finals," he said.

"To be here with a shorter squad, young players, a transitional period and with all the problems we have had, it's good.

"If people analyse the circumstances they will realise it is not an easy job and still we are lifting a trophy."

After taking a second-half lead through Fernando Torres, Chelsea were pegged back by Oscar Cardozo's penalty for Benfica before Branislav Ivanovic headed an injury-time winner.

Chelsea were forced to absorb a lot of pressure, particularly in the first half when the Portuguese side were on top, but could not convert possession and chances into goals.

"It was very tough," Benitez admitted. "We knew Benfica were a good team, with their pushing and pressing.

"After half-time the reaction of the team was pretty good and that was the difference."

Benitez will take charge of Chelsea for the final time when they face Everton on Sunday in the 69th match of their season.

Benitez, who won the Uefa Cup with Valencia in 2004 and the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, hopes that fans who have struggled to accept him will recognise his side's achievements.

"Everyone has their own opinions but I have received a lot of messages from Chelsea fans who see we are working hard and doing a good job," he said.

"They say we have to carry on and not listen to the other people, so that's the main thing for me - concentrating on my job.

"If some people are happy then fine. For some people who are not as happy then that's up to them."

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