Warm welcome: Chelsea mobbed at airport as they land in Japan for Club World Cup
13:41 GMT, 9 December 2012
Chelsea received a fantastic welcome as they landed in Japan to participate in the Club World Cup.
The players were mobbed at Narita International Airport by adoring fans, who were clearly overjoyed to see the Champions League winners in the flesh.
Frank Lampard, who returned to action on Saturday against Sunderland was a particularly popular figure – and he stopped to sign some shirts and greet the supporters.
Pen in hand: Frank Lampard signs shirts for fans at the airport in Narita
Happy man: Fernando Torres was smiling as he landed in Japan
Red carpet Chelsea youngster Oscar has not been in many starting line-ups recently
Manager Rafael Benitez would have been happy to meet some Blues fans who were not calling for his head.
The triumph over Sunderland saw the Chelsea boss record his first top flight victory after being controversially appointed by Roman Abramovich in place of club legend Roberto Di Matteo.
Chelsea will take on Mexican side Monterrey on Thursday morning in the semi-final of the competition.
Benitez said: 'The team still can improve, so it's a question of time.
'Training sessions before games, you have just two or three sessions and you cannot improve everything that you want to improve.
'But we will have more time, maybe, in Japan, three days in the hotel. We can talk, we can analyse more things and little by little, they will get to the level at which we want to see them.'
Better still, striker Fernando
Torres looked happy as he made his way through the airport, as well he
might after ending his Barclays Premier League drought with a double
against the Black Cats.
The striker had cut a miserable figure in recent weeks but was grinning on Saturday and smiling again this morning.
On the aeroplane he sat next to the other Blues' goalscorer in Chelsea's 3-1 victory, Juan Mata.
Spain stars Torres and Mata were the stars of
the show – the former nearly grabbed a hat-trick.
Warm welcome: Rafael Benitez strides through the airport ahead of the Chelsea pack
Ready for action: John Obi Mikel missed Saturday's game but should start on Thursday
Hands man: Keeper Petr Cech reaches out to sign a shirt for a fan
His venomous strike
smashed off the frame of the goal and fell to his compatriot, who
finished from close range.
Most impressively he demanded to
take a penalty – his first in English football – showing confidence
which had previously been missing.
Pals: Fernando Torres with Juan Mata, who tweeted: 'Off to Japan after a good victory at Sunderland! 12 hours trip close to the guy who scored a double…'
Chelsea will be missing another Spaniard, Oriol Romeu, after he sustained an injury during the match at the Stadium of Light.
But they will be boosted by the return of John Obi Mikel, who missed Saturday's clash through suspension, and of Lampard.
The England midfielder made his return from a six-week lay-off as a substitute for Eden Hazard with 10 minutes remaining.
Greetings: Chelsea players would have felt right at home
Hello geezers: David Luiz gives the fans the thumbs up sign
He told Chelsea TV: 'I felt fine. I had to be careful this time because of a recurrence I had last time, and even though I have been desperate to get back, I have been putting in the hours in the gym to make sure it's got a strong base.
'From now, I should be fit, touch wood. It's all good with it.'
Chelsea players and staff boarded their flight to the Far East after the game.
In uniform: Ramires and Paulo Ferreira
Monterrey set up the Yokahoma semi-final clash by beating South
Korea's Ulsan Hyundai 3-1 this morning.
Argentine striker Cesar Delgado, formerly of Lyon, struck twice after Jesus Corona opened the scoring early on.
The Asian champions managed to get on the scoresheet two minutes from time with Lee Keun-ho firing home from distance.
Opener: Monterrey's Jesus Corona wheels away after scoring
At the double: Cesar Delgado struck twice to set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea
Benitez knows the Club World Cup
tournament well having taken Liverpool to the final in 2005 and won it
with Inter Milan five years later.
He said: 'It's important always to have these opportunities to win any trophy, and especially a trophy like this one.
'We played the final in Japan in
2005, we won two years ago. It was a great experience for me and
hopefully it will be a great experience for our players.
Dispatched: Torres stroked home his penalty with style
'It will be a fantastic experience.
Yes, we are concerned because we know it will be very difficult, but we
are working very hard trying to organise everything properly.
'Maybe it will not be ideal because
you don't have too much time and you have to go and you have to play a
game in three days' time.
'But we will try to do our best,
obviously. It's not easy. The doctor and the fitness coaches are a
little bit crazy now, but we will try to do our best.'