Brentford manager Uwe Rosler said his players can take heart from their FA Cup tussles with Chelsea despite their 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Rescued by Fernando Torres’ late equaliser when the teams met at Griffin Park, Chelsea were again caused problems by the League One promotion chasers in the fourth-round replay.
They eventually took control of the game, with Juan Mata’s 55th-minute opener proving to be the turning point.
But a proud Rosler declared: “The fact that we are here, that we were 0-0 at half-time and the fact that Rafa [Benitez] put out a strong team says a lot.
“My players saw that collectively, when we stick to the gameplan, we can compete against opposition who are better than us individually.
“Nothing takes away from the effort and also the quality my players have shown, and I’m very, very happy.”
That gameplan hinged on keeping the game goalless in the second half and bringing Harry Forrester off the bench.
The all-important first goal was therefore a hammer blow for Rosler’s men as it was scored just as Forrester was preparing to come on and Chelsea were struggling to break Brentford down.
“We had a very good shape and there were periods when Chelsea were running out of ideas,” said Rosler.
“But obviously when they have the ball and we are having to run so much without the ball, at some stage you are going to get tired – first and foremost, mentally.
“They used one of those moments to score the first goal. We had very good control in terms of denying Mata space but from a long ball forward he got the second ball and had a fantastic shot.
“We gave our all and we forced them to also give their all in order to beat us. I feel the final scoreline doesn’t really reflect the game.
“The only thing we have to look at is that after the first goal we got too loose too early.
“The plan was always to bring Harry Forrester on and go for the win. But, by doing that, we got too loose and they punished us.”
Brentford were also unfortunate in the first half, when Marcello Trotta stuck the ball in Chelsea’s net only for a free-kick to be awarded to the visitors.
The whistle had already been blown for a foul on Adam Forshaw by Blues defender David Luiz near the edge of the penalty area.
Rosler admitted: “You have to have an extremely good day if you are coming to Chelsea and you want to go further.
“It’s up to us to make things happen, but you also need a little bit of luck.
“As a club like Brentford playing against the European champions, you need the 50-50 decisions going in your direction.
“On a better day he could have waited one or two more seconds and we would have been 1-0 up.
“Overall though, I would not complain about the referee. The referee has not decided the game. We take the defeat in the right way and have learned a lot.
“That experience will help the players for the next months and years to come.”