Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Chelsea are Euro kings with silver lining for departing boss Rafa Benitez

 CHELSEA won the Europa League in dramatic fashion last night as Rafa Benitez signed off in style with a trophy.
It means they are the first club to hold both European trophies – a glory secured here as Branislav Ivanovic headed the winner deep into stoppage time.

It was an emotional night for Ivanovic who suffered heartache last year as he missed Chelsea’s Champions League win through suspension.

But for Benitez, what a way to show those who have doubted and criticised him. He has now not only secured Chelsea’s place in next season’s Champions League but won them a trophy, too.

Spaniard Benitez, who leaves in the summer, said: “It’s a special night for everyone. When you play a final of a European competition and win you have to be really pleased and I’m proud for everyone.

“It’s sad to say, but you do your job for six months. It changes nothing if you win or lose. The job was done with all

the hard work on the training ground.”Chelsea, Rafa Benitez, Benfica, Benitez, Chelsea cup, Europa League 
 Fernando Torres had given Chelsea the lead with a brilliant solo goal before Oscar Cardozo levelled from the penalty spot – but then Ivanovic scored from Juan Mata’s corner.

Chelsea now remarkably hold both European trophies – at least until Saturday week and this year’s Champions League final.

Ivanovic said: “It’s a great feeling for me. We’ve played a long, hard season and we deserved this. It is the best moment of my career.

“I missed the Champions League final last year, but I always said that the team comes first. It’s a real pleasure to be a part of this team and have a chance to win these trophies.”

Chelsea, Rafa Benitez, Benfica, Benitez, Chelsea cup, Europa League 

Torres, who alongside Mata is now remarkably a World Cup, European Championship, Champions League and Europa League holder, added: “I’m very happy.

“Benfica were much better than us in the first half but our quality made the difference.”

Interim boss Benitez was cheered by Chelsea fans at the end after months of verbal abuse.

Asked if he had heard the fans, he said: “I was just enjoying myself with the trophy.

“I could see everyone was happy, so I was happy too.

“I’m happy that Fernando scored and happy that we won. When you have a manager who is leaving and yet you see the players still fighting hard right to the end, you have to be pleased.

“We won, so hopefully people will say: ‘Yes, it’s not bad.’ If you put everything together you will realise how difficult this was with a squad that was not big.”

Chelsea, Rafa Benitez, Benfica, Benitez, Chelsea cup, Europa League 

Injured club skipper John Terry changed out of his suit to climb onto the podium to help lift the trophy with captain for the night Frank Lampard – as he had done in the Champions League final a year ago.
Lampard said: “It’s been an amazing time. Talk about ups and downs. We’re a group, we’re a team. We were tired because of a long season but we showed a great desire.”
And Chelsea’s record goalscorer Lampard acknowledged “it looks good” for his chances of a new contract at the club as he celebrated the glory of another trophy in his hands.
Lampard’s contract expires this summer and speculation over his future at the club has been a constant backdrop this season.

Chelsea, Rafa Benitez, Benfica, Benitez, Chelsea cup, Europa League 
And asked whether he will remain at Stamford Bridge next season, he said: “I really hope so. We’re getting there. We haven’t completely sat down on it but the club have been brilliant. It looks good.”

Lampard hit the crossbar moments before defender Ivanovic headed Chelsea’s winner.

He said: “I was just waiting for it to dip a little bit but it doesn’t matter, we’re a group.

“No one deserves it more than Ivanovic, he’s been fantastic.”

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said: “We should have been worthy winners.

“My players felt as if they had been gunned down.”

source : express.

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