Benitez's temporary appointment was never a popular one, but he hoped the crowd would use their energies to back the team.
They came with handmade banners - "The Interim One" and "Rafa Benitez we're just not that inter im" among them - and chanted the names of his immediate predecessor Roberto Di Matteo and Jose Mourinho, who could yet return to west London as the Spaniard's successor.
Benitez anticipated questions over the atmosphere.
"We had a lot of attempts, very good football, the atmosphere was good," he said.
"Before you start asking about the fans and the reaction, I will say I was really pleased with the fans behind the team.
"The players played with more confidence and it was clear it was very positive."