Benfica 1 Chelsea 2: Rafael Benítez ‘proud’ of Europa League triumph
Benfica 1 Chelsea 2: Rafael Benítez is bursting with pride after Blues down battle hard before lifting the Europa League
Rafael Benítez was bursting with pride after watching Chelsea down a battling Benfica side to lift the Europa League for the first time.
After being largely outplayed by the Portuguese outfit in the first half, Chelsea took the lead when Fernando Torres rounded goalkeeper Artur Moraes and slotted home on the hour-mark.
But the Blues were not ahead for long, as Oscar Cardozo slammed in his penalty following Cesar Azpilicueta’s handball.
However, after having missed last season’s Champions League final due to suspension, Branislav Ivanovic leapt above the Benfica defence to head home Juan Mata’s corner in the 92nd minute to win the cup at the death.
“I think it was a great performance in the second half,” said the Chelsea interim boss. “We had some problems in the first half against a very good team.
“We didn’t have the legs and then we had to adjust and push them. They [my players] deserve it because they’ve worked so hard during the whole season. I’m really pleased for the players and for everyone involved.
“I’m obviously proud because it was not easy. We have been talking about this all the time. So I’m really pleased and really proud.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Frank Lampard felt the Blues were fully deserving of the trophy after such a turbulent season.
“It’s been an amazing time for all of us involved,” said the 34-year-old. “Talk about ups and downs in the last two years! But this is a big up.
“We’re a group, a team, and it was tight tonight after the long season we’ve had.
“No-one deserves this more than Ivanovic – he has been fantastic. You make your own luck, and we stick together in this group. The club deserve it.”