Benfica’s aim to lift a first European trophy since 1962 failed to see the light of the day as a Rafael Benitez- led Chelsea, against all odds , finished the season on a high.
Chelsea, who were without club captain John Terry and midfielders Mikel Obi and Eden Hazard, had two former Benfica players Ramires and David Luiz lining up against their former side, while Franck Lampard played a supporting role with the captain armband.
Fernando Torres gave the Blues the desired lead at the Amsterdam Arena before Oscar Cardozo equalized from a spot kick. An excellent second- half that could have gone either way looked to be heading for extra time until Branislav Ivanovic- who missed the Champions League final win last season- popped up with a priceless header.
After the game, an elated Torres responded: “The first- half was not good at all in any way. It’s a final, the only chance we have to win the Europa League, so you can see why we changed our performance.”
Chelsea really changed their performance indeed, as the blues went for the all- important goals while the Portuguese dazzled on possession. Thanks to a solid combination of Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill at the heart of the defence with Ashley Cole outside right, Benfica could have made matters worse for Rafa.
“I’m really pleased and really proud,” the Spaniard told ITV.
After 90 minutes, Chelsea made history by becoming the first team to hold the Europa League and the Champions League trophies at the same time (until Saturday 25th Champions League Wembley final). Much to the delight of Franck Lampard:
“No one deserves it more than Ivanovic. He’s been immense, he’s been fantastic,” Lampard told ITV.
And when asked if he would be at Chelsea next season, the Chelsea goal king said:
“I really, really hope so.”
Chelsea will hold their heads high and hope to build on their success next season with the arrival of Jose Mourinho from Real Madrid.
But for Benfica, it was their seventh defeat in European finals since they last won a European trophy back in 1962.