Europa League

Chelsea wins Europa League title

Europa League: Highlights of Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Benfica.
Europa League: Highlights of Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Benfica.
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GLORY HUNTERS

Check out the best shots of the Europa League final from Amsterdam.

Chelsea made it back to back European wins as they claimed the Europa League with a 2-1 win over Benfica in the Amsterdam Arena.

The match had appeared to be heading for extra time as Oscar Cardozo had leveled from the penalty spot just eight minutes after Fernando Torres had put Chelsea ahead on the hour.

But it was won in added time as Branislav Ivanovic rose brilliantly to head home a Juan Mata corner to give Chelsea yet more European silverware just 12-months after claiming the Champions League title.

It was a night of disappointment for Benfica as they played their part in a thrilling contest in Holland. The Portuguese outfit were by far the better team in the opening half, and they enjoyed good possession throughout - but they failed to really test Petr Cech.

As early as the second minute Oscar Cardozo headed over, whilst Nico Gaitan twice fired wide whilst Enzo Perez and Eduardo Salvio were constantly probing and driving forward from midfield.

One-time Bolton loanee Rodrigo probably had the best chance of the half when a free-kick was taken short and came into him just six-yards out, but he twice lost his footing and missed the chance to test Cech.

Chelsea were limited but Artur had to pull of an exceptional save just before the break when Frank Lampard made a rare foray to the edge of their box and unleashed an archetypal thunderous drive, but the Brazilian managed to tip it over when he looked to be going the wrong way.

Into the second half and the expected reaction from Chelsea did not materialize with Benfica pushing forward in numbers again. Gaitan saw a half-volley wide before Cardozo had a header ruled out for offside.

On the hour Cech made a good save from Salvio's back-post header - but from that nobody expected what was to come as Chelsea were ahead within seconds. Cech threw the ball long for Mata in the center-circle, he flicked it on and Torres was away, he held off Luisao and went past Arthur before finishing clinically.

Chelsea's lead though lasted just eight minutes. Cesar Azpilicueta handled in the box as substitute Lima flicked the ball on and Cardozo stepped up to hammer the ball past Cech. Both teams pushed on for the winner and they both had their chances. Cech was at his best to as he tipped over a brilliant dipping volley from Cardozo.

Then captain Lampard came within inches of winning it in the final minute of normal time but his stunning effort from 30-yards cannoned back off the bar. But just when the game looked to be heading into extra-time - Chelsea won it. Ramires chased down a long ball to win a corner. Mata took and Ivanovic rose unmarked to head into the corner of the net.

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Still there was time for Cardozo to almost be presented with a chance to take the match to added, but he was denied by a great lunge from Cahill and Chelsea celebrated as the full-time whistle went just moments later.

Lampard, whose contract expires this summer and speculation over his future at the club has been a constant backdrop this season, remained hopeful over a new contract at Stamford Bridge next season. Lampard told ITV Sport: "I really hope so. We're getting there, we haven't completely sat down on it but the club have been brilliant, it looks good."

Interim manager Rafael Benitez was a proud man after ending his tumultuous tenure with continental success.

The Spaniard has been subjected to verbal abuse by the club's own fans since replacing Roberto Di Matteo early in the season, due to unhappiness over both his predecessor's sacking and Benitez's comments about the Blues during his time as Liverpool manager.

"I'm proud,'' he said. "It was not easy, we have been talking about this all the time so I am really pleased, really proud.

"It was a great performance in the second half. We had some problems in the first half against a very good team but I am pleased for the players and for everybody involved. They deserved it because they worked hard the whole season.''

Torres also praised Benfica's first-half display but was delighted his side were able to emerge victorious.

"It was a very tough game, maybe Benfica deserved a little more,'' he said. "They were much better in the first half but individual quality made the difference. It was the final, maybe the only chance we had to win the Europa League, and we won it.''

Fellow goalscorer Ivanovic, who missed last season's Champions League final due to suspension, said: ''It's a great feeling to play in the final.

"Benfica played very well but in the end we scored from set-pieces. Now it's time to celebrate. These supporters and this team deserve to win a trophy this season.''

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