Andre Villas-Boas believes progressing to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League was a 'slap in the face' to Chelsea's critics.
A 3-0 win over Valencia at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, combined with Bayer Leverkusen's failure to defeat Genk, saw the Londoners qualify as Group E winners on a night when they could have been eliminated had things not gone to plan.
Crashing out of the competition would have piled pressure on the under-fire Villas-Boas, who after Saturday's win over Newcastle had accused the media of a premeditated agenda against his club.
But the victory over Valencia, which came courtesy of two goals from Didier Drogba and one from Ramires, was in the Chelsea boss' eyes the perfect response to the critics of his evolving team.
Despite not conceding against Newcastle, Wolves and Blackburn in three of their last four Premier League games, Chelsea ditched the high defensive line which has been favoured by Villas-Boas and he was pleased with the way his team adapted.
When asked about the tactic, he told Sky Sports HD2: "To be fair, in the Premiership games, in four games we had three clean sheets, so our defence is not that bad and we have been improving a lot.
"(There has been) a lot of criticism to our players and I think they gave everybody a slap in the face today."
Villas-Boas said of the personal pressure he has been under: "What matters is that Chelsea finished top of the group and managed to obtain the objectives which were set out.
"(We) managed to keep in the competition, qualified first and we eagerly await the (Champions League) draw to see how far we can go."
Next on the agenda is a Premier League date with leaders Manchester City at Stamford Bridge at the beginning of next week and Villas-Boas hopes to have built momentum.
Fourth-placed Chelsea trail Roberto Mancini's side by 10 points, but their manager hopes they are beginning to peak at the perfect time.
"I think it (defeating Valencia) is a very good emotional bonus and will make us recover physically for the game against Manchester City, which is very important," he said.
"I don't know what is going to happen on Monday night, but we have a chance to maybe shorten the distance to the leader. We are very, very competent and an excellent team.
"We have a chance. It is going to be extremely difficult, but it is also in our hands. If we managed to do that, we bring the Premier League alive."