Benfica 1 Chelsea 2: Match-winner Ivanovic hails ‘deserved’ victory
Benfica 1 Chelsea 2: Branislav Ivanovic declares Chelsea worthy winners of the Europa League after his stoppage-time winner
Branislav Ivanovic declared Chelsea worthy winners of the Europa League after his stoppage-time winner downed Benfica in a dramatic final in Amsterdam.
After being largely outplayed by an energetic Benfica in the first half, the Blues took the lead when Fernando Torres rounded goalkeeper Artur Moraes and slotted home on the hour-mark.
Chelsea’s advantage only lasted eight minutes, however, as Oscar Cardozo slammed in his penalty after Cesar Azpilicueta’s handball.
But Ivanovic leapt above the Benfica defence to head home Juan Mata’s corner in the 92nd minute to hand the Blues their second European trophy in as many seasons.
“It’s a very great feeling,” Ivanovic told ITV. “I think this team deserves it because we’ve had a very difficult season with a lot of games.
“It was a very hard game, very difficult. Benfica played very well but in the end we scored from a set-piece, something that we had prepared for before the game.
“The supporters and us as a team deserve to get a trophy this season.”
Meanwhile, Torres, whose goal was his ninth in Europe this season and 22nd overall, admitted that the Blues’ first-half display wasn’t good enough.
“I’m very happy,” said the Spaniard. “It was a hard journey to get here. It was a very tough game, maybe Benfica deserve a little bit more. In the end, individual quality made the difference.
“The first half was not good enough at all in any way. We had to change out mentality. We knew it was maybe our only chance to win the Europa League and you could see a difference in the second half.”
And Torres also insisted that he sees his future at the west London club. He added: “I signed a five-and-a-half year contract and I hope to stay for at least this time.”