Scheduling can´t halt Chelsea charge
Rafael Benitez has spoken of his relief after Chelsea came from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 and secure their third win in six days.
Sunderland, taken charge by Paolo Di Canio for the first time, took a half-time lead when Cesar Azpilicueta diverted the ball into his own net.
But a similar mistake from Matthew Kilgallon, and a fortunate touch from Branislav Ivanovic completed a second-half turnaround.
And Benitez praised his squad's mentality in light of their busy fixture schedule.
"I was pleased with team after four games in eight days," Benitez told reporters at Stamford Bridge.
"It was a very good reaction in the second half, and we were much more positive.
"With too many games in a short period it is important to keep the team winning, to keep the team ready. The negative thing is that we conceded a goal, the positive thing is we recovered and comeback."
With Tottenham and Everton drawing at White Hart Lane earlier on Sunday, Chelsea reclaimed third spot in the Premier League with the win over relegation-threatened Sunderland.
Benitez, however, is not getting carried away and believes the race for a place in Europe's premier club competition is far from decided.
He said: "Hopefully for us it won't but I think the race for the top four will go to the last day. Tottenham, Arsenal and even Everton are pushing."
It was not all positives for the west London outfit, though, with striker Demba Ba being withdrawn at half-time after a heavy tackle from Craig Gardner.
"He has a problem with his ankle," Benitez revealed. "We will have to see tomorrow. It was a heavy tackle, we will have to see."
Meanwhile, Di Canio has backed himself to adapt quickly to the Premier League following his side's loss.
Di Canio's lack of top-flight experience was scrutinised upon his appointment, but the Italian insists he is not fazed by the task of adapting to the Premier League.
"The difference is when you prepare a game you play against Accrington, now it's Oscar, Hazard, Mata, some of the best players in the world," said Di Canio.
"It's a bit different. Before I used to make a strategy only to win, also now I try to win but now the strategy is different when you play and you don't have the ball. If you are good manager like I am, you're not worried."
Di Canio concedes he needs to work on the fitness of his Sunderland squad ahead of the remaining six games of the season, with the Black Cats currently relying on goal difference to separate them from the relegation zone.
"It's not the fittest team in the world but we're going to work and give them more energy in the next few weeks," the Italian said.
"We have a short time from now until the end of the season but we are capable to build, without exaggeration, their strength and resistance. Most importantly their attention because that's where the goal comes from. In seven minutes we conceded two.
"Every week (the relegation battle) will change. Stoke now are involved completely, they are only three points above us, they have to play against us, they have to play Manchester United, we have a better goal difference. I think it will be Villa, us, Wigan, Stoke, and yes right to the end of the season."