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Benitez takes over Chelsea hot seat until the end of the season

updated 4:26 PM EST, Wed November 21, 2012
Rafael Benitez will take immediate charge of Chelsea after the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.
Rafael Benitez will take immediate charge of Chelsea after the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chelsea appoint Rafael Benitez as interim manager until end of the season
  • Benitez replaces the sacked Roberto Di Matteo
  • Benitez has enjoyed success at Valencia and Liverpool
  • Di Matteo departed after 3-0 defeat to Juventus Tuesday

(CNN) -- Chelsea moved quickly to replace the sacked Roberto Di Matteo Wednesday as Rafael Benitez was appointed as interim manager until the end of the season.

The English Premier League side made the announcement on their official website, just hours after the departure of Di Matteo, who had led them to European Champions League glory for the first time earlier this year.

Former Valencia and Liverpool manager Benitez will be thrown in at the deep end, with Chelsea taking on EPL reigning champions and leaders Manchester City Sunday.

"The owner and the Board believe that in Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives," read the club statement.

In Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives
Chelsea FC

"The 52-year-old Spaniard is due to meet the players at the training ground in Cobham tomorrow (Thursday)," it added.

Read: Cech wants 'racism saga' sorted

Benitez, who will be the ninth manager under owner Roman Abramovich, has been out of work since being sacked by Inter Milan in December 2010.

He guided Valencia to two Spanish titles and the UEFA Cup and spent six years at Liverpool, highlighted by their Champions League triumph in 2005 and reaching the final in 2007.

Former Barcelona manager Pepe Guardiola has been linked with the Chelsea job, but is currently on a year-long sabbatical after leaving the Catalan giants at the end of last season.

Di Matteo, who also won the FA Cup with Chelsea during his brief spell in charge, paid the price for a poor recent run of results, culminating in a 3-0 defeat to Juventus Tuesday which leaves their participation in the knockout stages of this season's Champions League in considerable doubt.

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