Europa League - Ivanovic heads Chelsea to last-gasp glory against Benfica

Europa League final, Amsterdam ArenA - Chelsea 2 (Torres 60, Ivanovic 90+2' ) Benfica 1 (Cardozo 68 penalty)

Eurosport
Europa League - Ivanovic heads Chelsea to last-gasp glory against Benfica
.

View photo

Branislav Ivanovic headed Chelsea to a dramatic 2-1 Europa League final victory over Benfica in stoppage time as the London side became the first club to hold Europe's two major club trophies at the same time.

A year after lifting the Champions League trophy by shocking Bayern Munich on penalties in Munich, this match proved to be every bit as thrilling as Rafael Benitez's team somehow resisted a Benfica side who had looked classier on the ball.

With the score level at 1-1 a minute into three added on after an Oscar Cardozo penalty on 68 minutes had cancelled out Fernando Torres's opening goal on 60 minutes, Ivanovic - suspended for last year's Champions League final - proved the difference between the sides.

The Serbian defender sent a towering header back across goal from Juan Mata's corner. The ball seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before nestling in the net as Benfica goalkeeper Artur could only watch the ball drop beyond him into the corner of the net.

It was a heartbreaking way for Benfica to lose the match, but they ultimately paid the price for failing to score having dominated large swathes of the first period.

They have now lost seven straight European finals since winning the European Cup with a 5-3 win over Real Madrid in Amsterdam in 1962.

But the Dutch capital was not kind to them on this occasion.

View photo

.

After Torres had benefited from some slipshod Benfica defending to outmuscle the Portuguese side's captain Luisão before rounding Artur to score on the hour-mark, Benfica were level eight minutes later when César Azpilicueta had needlessly handled in the area.

Cardozo maintained his composure to slam the penalty down the middle as Petr Cech dived to his left.

Cech was needed on 81 minutes to claw a volley over the bar from Cardozo before Chelsea won it when the match seemed destined for extra-time and penalties.

Chelsea will not care much for the manner in which they carried off the club's 11th trophy in 10 years under Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

It is a rich haul of silverware yet interim manager Benitez is set to depart the club this summer to be replaced by the returning Jose Mourinho, who has been tipped to depart Real.

This was a terrific way to go out for a coach who has endured some wretched treatment from a sizable chunk of the 12,000 or so Chelsea fans who travelled to the Dutch capital for this match.

On another memorable night for Chelsea in Europe, there was more good news for the fans with Frank Lampard set to sign a new one-year extension after looking like he was on his way out of the club at the end of the season.

Lampard came closest to netting for Chelsea in open play as he forced Artur to claw away a stinging swerving hit in the first period before a blistering shot from 25 yards came back off the bar.

But Chelsea would have the last word through Ivanovic. They finish their season against Everton in the Premier League on Sunday knowing a win will secure them third spot in the table and a place in next season's Champions League group stages.

With captain John Terry missing due to an ankle injury and Eden Hazard out with a hamstring strain, the nature of this win will be savoured around Stamford Bridge for some time to come.

Cardozo, Nicolas Gaitlan and Eduardo Salvio all had chances to open the scoring for Benfica in the first half but the finishing touch was fatefully lacking, a point illustrated when Gary Cahill made two outstanding tackles as Cardozo seemed likely to equalise seconds after Ivanovic seconds had scored.

PLAYER RATINGS

Chelsea: Cech 7; Azpilicueta 6, Ivanovic 7, Cahill 7, Cole 6; Lampard 7, Luiz 6; Ramires 6, Mata 8, Oscar 7; Torres 8

Benfica: Artur 6; Almeida 5, Luisao 5, Garay 6, Melgarejo 6; Salvio 7, Perez 7, Matic 6, Gaitan 7; Rodrigo 7, Cardozo 7..subs: Jardel 7, Lima 6, John 7

MATCHCAST: COMMENTARY AND PLAYER RATINGS

MAN OF THE MATCH

Juan Mata (Chelsea) - With Eden Hazard missing due to a hamstring injury, Mata maintained his usual level of consistency providing the delivery for Ivanovic to nod the winner into the corner of the net.

View Comments (383)
Write for Yahoo Sport