Chelsea claim last-gasp triumph

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A 93rd-minute header from Branislav Ivanovic gave Chelsea a stunning 2-1 victory over Benfica in the Europa League final on Wednesday as the London club claimed the trophy for the first time in heart-stopping fashion.
The game in Amsterdam seemed destined for extra time after Fernando Torres’ superb 60th-minute opener for Chelsea was cancelled out by an Oscar Cardozo penalty, only for Ivanovic to net a dramatic winner with a looping header in stoppage time.
Club captain John Terry sat the game out with an ankle injury, but just as he had done after last season’s Champions League final, which he missed through suspension, he donned his full kit to lift the trophy alongside fellow Chelsea stalwart Frank Lampard.
Victory made Chelsea the first team to simultaneously hold the Champions League and Europa League titles, although they will relinquish their Champions League crown in 10 days.
More lasting is the statistic that they are only the fourth club to have claimed Europe’s three major trophies — including the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup — after Ajax, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez said, “The players have worked so hard, all season. I am proud — it was not easy. I’m really pleased, really proud.”
The manner of defeat was cruel on Jorge Jesus’ enterprising side and means that Benfica have now lost seven consecutive European finals since claiming their last major continental crown in 1962.
Indeed, so authoritative were Benfica, and so lacklustre Chelsea, that only an apparent inability to shoot at the appropriate moment prevented Jesus’ side from taking the lead before half-time. It was a Chelsea smash-and-grab goal plucked straight from last season’s Champions League textbook, but the lead was to last only eight minutes.
Cesar Azpilicueta handled Salvio’s header just inside the Chelsea penalty area and Cardozo drilled his spot-kick into the middle of the goal to claim his seventh goal in this season’s competition.

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