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Rafa Benitez has last laugh as Chelsea lift Europa League Cup.

Football News 24/7
Rafa Benitez, Chelsea' interim boss was left with a smile from Amsterdam to the Kings Rd last night after his side came back from the dead to win the Europa League in added time.
 
The beat Benfica 2-1, in a pulsating game, with, both sides going all out for the win, and two goals from Chelsea that would have graced any encounter.
 
Torres scored the first on the hour mark, pouncing on a mistake by Ezequiel Garay, then brushing off Luisao, rounding Artur Moraes in the Benfica goal and coolly slotting the ball into the net from the tightest of angles.
 
A gem of a goal - but the shine was then taken off it ten minutes later when Cesar Azpilicueta handled the ball in the area and Oscar Cardozo made no mistake from the penalty spot. One apiece and extra-time beckoned, a hellish prospect for two teams worn out at the end of an arduous nine months. Chelsea were playing their 68th match of the season, and it showed in their legs.
 
Then came the extraordinary denouement, deep into stoppage time, with the stadium clock showing well past 10.30. Juan Mata swung in a corner from the right and Ivanovic tracked the flight of the ball with inch-perfect precision. He jumped, seemed to hang in the air for a moment, twisting his torso, and then powered a header that looped over the defenders, and over poor Artur, and into the far corner of the Benfica net.
 
Poor Benfica. This time last week they dreaming of doing the treble. Then, on Saturday, Porto scored a stoppage-time goal to scupper their chances of winning the Portuguese title, and now Chelsea had done the dirty on them at the death. No wonder their fans were in tears last night.
 
Among Chelsea fans and players there were only tears of joy. It was a suitably astonishing end to a season that even by the Blues' standards had been more madcap than usual.
 
In November they sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo, six months after winning the Champions League, only to bring in a coach that most of the fans couldn't stand.
 
Now Rafa Benitez is on his way out, though he leaves with his head held high having won the respect of Chelsea fans, the majority of whom applauded the Spaniard as he toured the pitch at the end of the game. "Chelsea are a young team," said Benitez. "They have fought and worked hard, and they've come through."
 
Asked to reflect on his own success during his short stay at Chelsea, Benitez replied: "It depends on your perceptions. When you put it all together, what we've managed in terms of keeping the squad together and coping with injuries, I think we've done well. You have to win for people to realise what you're trying to do. We won, so hopefully everyone now knows."

One thing that did emerge in post-match interviews was the fact that Fran Lampard is on the verge of signing a 1 year extention to his contract. That will please Chelsea fans.

JB

 

 

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