Petr Cech says players must share blame for Chelsea's European exit

• Home draw with Juventus was start of the trouble, says keeper
• Rafael Benítez sets his sights on winning Europa League

Petr Cech has admitted Chelsea's players must take responsibility for the team's premature elimination from the Champions League after the holders' defence of the trophy ground to a juddering halt 200 days after that heady night in Munich.

The London club became the first defending champions to fail to qualify for the knockout rounds despite their riotous dismissal of Nordsjaelland, the first victory under Rafael Benítez's interim management, courtesy of Juventus's win in Donetsk and Chelsea's head-to-head record versus Shakhtar.

The team's toils in Group E had played a major part in Roberto Di Matteo losing his job last month and Cech, the stand-in captain in the absence of the injured John Terry and Frank Lampard, said the players should also take the blame for the disappointment.

"We are all in the same boat, the manager and players," said Cech. "The responsibility is the same for the players. We are a team and, even if you change the manager, the responsibility is on everyone. We had games at home in this group where we didn't win and then we lost away to Shakhtar and Juventus. But the main difference for us was the home draw with Juve [in September]. We were 2-0 up and the game finished 2-2 and that is where the damage was done."

The Europa League awaits in the new year, a trophy Benítez will try to win despite the disruption Thursday night football can cause to a club's fixture schedule.

"The Europa League is not important if you don't win it but, if you are in the semi-final or final, everyone wants to win it," said the Spaniard. "It's an important competition at that stage. So, if we get there, we'll do our best to win it.

"When I came in here we knew this [elimination] could happen even if the owner hoped we could continue in the Champions League. It was out of our hands. All we could do was our own job and, as manager, I have to be pleased with the performance: 32 attempts, 18 on target, six goals. We are really disappointed that we didn't progress and we will try and lift their spirits on Thursday, but this can be a good reference point for the future.

"More than the win was the way we won here: the character, attitude, intensity we showed and the chances we created. Can we change the result in the other game? No. Can we change the situation? No. All we can do is try and improve a bit more and be ready for the next challenge, which comes at Sunderland on Saturday."

Benítez will hope that Fernando Torres benefits from his two goals here, his first in seven games, even if they were scored against opponents who, by their own admission, were hopelessly outclassed throughout. "We helped him get back on track," said Nordsjaelland's manager, Kasper Hjulmand. "Goals come in runs and you will see in the next few weeks that he has got his confidence back. We couldn't match them: they were at least one class better than us."

Benítez said: "I'd seen in training the day before that Fernando was sharper, with a bit more confidence. If we create chances, he will score for us and we did that this evening. I hope [it's a springboard] for him. He's shown his quality. If we can play at this level, he can score more goals."

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