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Live Commentary: Europa League final - Benfica 1-2 Chelsea - as it happened

Find out how Chelsea won the Europa League title at the expense of Benfica with Sports Mole's text updates.
Live Commentary: Benfica 1-2 Chelsea - as it happened
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Chelsea went into tonight's Europa League final in Amsterdam against Benfica aiming to become the first team to hold both of UEFA's biggest club trophies simultaneously.

The Portuguese outfit dominated the match during the first half, but they were unable to break the deadlock.

That was eventually achieved after the restart by Chelsea and Fernando Torres, who rounded Artur to score. However, a few minutes later Oscar Cardozo levelled up the score from the penalty spot.

It looked as though the match was heading into extra-time until Branislav Ivanovic won it for the Blues in the last minute of stoppage time with a looping header.

You can find out how the match unfolded with our minute-by-minute updates below.


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Evening all. So, it's the big one for Chelsea fans - well sort of anyway! It may not be what you all wanted at the start of the campaign, but it's a trophy nonetheless. There is also a chance for the club to make history, which doesn't come around every day. Standing in their way is one of the biggest names in European football - Benfica.

We are still awaiting the team news from the Amsterdam ArenA, although that should be with us shortly. The main thing we are waiting for is to see if John Terry has made it, or will he miss his second European final in as many years?

The signs do not look good if truth be told. The Chelsea skipper was stretchered off at the weekend against Aston Villa with an ankle injury. He's recovered enough to travel to the Netherlands, but during the team's walk around the city earlier today, he was visibly limping. It really would be a major surprise if he is in the squad.

However, should he miss out, UEFA have confirmed that he will be allowed to lift the trophy, providing that Chelsea win obviously! That's different from last year's Champions League final because he was suspended following his red card in semi-final - this time he is injured.

BREAKING TEAM NEWS: As feared, Terry has not made it. The ankle injury was obviously too severe to risk and he will sit out another European final. Full lineups coming up...

CHELSEA XI: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Luiz, Ramires, Lampard; Oscar, Mata; Torres

So, the absence of Terry, who hasn't even made the bench, means that Frank Lampard will skipper the Blues this evening. It looks as though he may be given an advanced midfield role as well, what with a hamstring injury having ruled out Eden Hazard. At the back, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic will form the partnership, while David Luiz pushes forward into midfield against his former employers.

And here is how Benfica will start this clash...

BENFICA XI: Artur; Almeida, Luisao, Garay, Melgarejo; Salvio, Perez, Matic, Gaitan; Rodrigo, Cardozo

As far as injuries are concerned, Benfica coach Jorge Jesus is a lucky man because he doesn't have any to contend with. It's a strong looking lineup, which includes reported Manchester United transfer target Nemanja Matic in the midfield. The experienced Luisao is also named as one of the two centre-backs.

And while we are here, let's bring you both benches. As mentioned, there is no Terry for Chelsea. He's actually on the side of the pitch right now standing in a shirt and tie:

CHELSEA: Turnbull, Ferreira, Ake, Mikel, Marin, Benayoun, Moses

BENFICA: Lopes, Jardel, Aimar, Urreta, Gomes, Lima, John


If you're being totally honest, that is not the strongest of Chelsea benches, is it? There is no-one on there that gives you impression that they would score a goal if one is required. It's not as if Fernando Torres has been prolific either. Just goes to show that some work is needed in the transfer market at Stamford Bridge this summer.

In contrast, Benfica have Lima among their substitutes. The 29-year-old is actually probably bitterly disappointed not to be starting tonight. He's scored 18 goals this season, whereas Rodrigo, who once had brief loan stint with Bolton Wanderers, starts with just seven goals to his name. It's not a bad replacement for Benfica to have waiting in the wings though.

Staying with Benfica and their attacking options - Oscar Cardozo has found the net on 16 occasions so far this year. However, what's more impressive is his record against English clubs. During Benfica's last 10 matches against Premier League sides, their Paraguayan international has scored in six of them. He may not be the most mobile of centre-forwards, but he's an excellent target man.

For those that are still none the wiser about his quality, here is a video offering of what the Chelsea defence will be up against:


Right, with just over 30 minutes to go until we are underway, let's take a look back on how both sides reached this showpiece event...

CHELSEA
Sparta Prague (A) 0-1
Sparta Prague (H) 1-1
Steaua Bucuresti (A) 1-0
Steaua Bucuresti (H) 3-1
Rubin Kazan (H) 3-1
Rubin Kazan (A) 3-2
Basel (A) 1-2
Basel (H) 3-1

BENFICA
Bayer Leverkusen (A) 0-1
Bayer Leverkusen (H) 2-1
Bordeaux (H) 1-0
Bordeaux (A) 2-3
Newcastle (H) 3-1
Newcastle (A) 1-1
Fenerbahce (A) 1-0
Fenerbahce (H) 3-1

It's hard to say which of these sides has had the harder run. Both have difficult trips (Fenerbahce and Rubin for example), but then they have also had easy encounters. On paper, this should be the toughest clash of two team's campaigns.

One thing that Chelsea may look to capitalise on is any negative feelings floating around the Benfica squad. The weekend's loss to rivals Porto was only their first of season in the Portuguese league and yet they amazingly dropped to second in the table behind their conquerors. What's more, there is just one more match left to play! That's got to smart a little bit.

Having said that, Benfica midfielder Nicolas Gaitan has insisted that his teammates are fully focused on this encounter. Here's some of what he had to say about the clash to UEFA's official website:

"You've been watching this since you were a child and now it is a reality and you've made it.

"I am very happy, because you dream about this as a child. Now that we are here, we want to win it, and I am sure it's the same for Chelsea."


The experienced Luisao has also echoed the sentiments of his teammate by saying: "We trust the work we do and since we finished that [Porto] game we have been concentrating on this big final," he told UEFA.com. "So we have no concern about a game that is in the past – we're looking forward, not back.

"What I want is the best for Benfica. Benfica deserve this, we've grown in recent years. As captain, [I say] we're representing not just the players and their families but everyone who works at this club. We can make history for an important club like Benfica."


Someone with a foot in both camps, so to speak, is Chelsea's David Luiz. The extrovert Brazilian joined the Blues from Benfica back in January 2011 and he has conceded that it will be a "special" day for him. Not that he is looking to do his former club any favours.

"I have lost three finals this year, which means now is the time to win," he told The Mirror. "For me, the Europea League is one more big title. Always I say when you win something and you finish you are hungry again. Last year, I ate beef. Now I have chicken, but I'm still hungry again and want to win more titles.

"It will be a difficult game. A special day for me, special day for my teammates. I think it will be a strong game for me. It will be a game with a lot of emotion. I just want to win."


Another Brazilian, Ramires, also swapped Benfica for Chelsea in 2010. He was given the number seven shirt upon his arrival, which had previously been worn by Andriy Shevchenko. It's fair to say that the midfielder has had more success in that jersey that the Ukrainian striker, who quite frankly looked like he was running through syrup during large parts of his stint at Stamford Bridge - he was that slow!

Ramires may be called upon if this goes to penalties. However, Chelsea fans will probably want to hope that it doesn't come to that following Frank Lampard's recent revelation:

"We haven't practised yet and I don't think we will," the midfielder told The Mirror. "A year ago we practised them and took penalties against each of the four goalies we had. We all took them then and we won.

"But then again, I practised them with England many a time in tournaments and we ended up losing the shootout, so I don't think there is any perfect recipe.

"It is down to the individual. Some people like to practise, but Michael Ballack never practised a penalty when he was here and he was one of the best penalty-takers I have played with."


Right then, the players are in the tunnel. Lampard, who will lead Chelsea out, looks extremely focused - as does Torres. It's a big night for the Spaniard. He's not exactly set the world alight since his £50m arrival in January 2011, but he can prove a few doubters wrong with a couple of goals.

Both clubs was given just over 9,000 tickets each for this match. In a stadium that holds around 53,000 people, that is very poor. It shows just how much money UEFA must make from sponsorship deals. However, there are a lot of blue shirt inside the ground. It seems that Chelsea supporters have managed to get hold of some of the neutral seats.

GAME ON! Benfica, attacking from right to left, get this Europa League final started. A big 90 minutes ahead for both teams, that's for sure.

CHANCE! An early warning for Chelsea as Andre Almeida floats over a cross from the right. Cardozo is unmarked inside the area, but the ball is a little too high for him and he heads over the crossbar. The Chelsea rearguard cannot afford to keep giving him that much room though because he will punish them eventually.

A quick tweet from BBC Sport: "Should Chelsea's Frank Lampard lift the Europa League tonight it would be the 14th piece of silverware the midfielder has won."

What a career Lampard has had. No matter who you support, you have to admire his achievements in the blue shirt.


Benfica midfielder Matic is extremely lucky to have avoided a booking for a tackle that he has just committed on Ramires. He may have slipped, but he knew what he was doing as he hacked down the Chelsea player, who looks in pain. He will carry on, but it's one that the Chelsea medical staff are likely to keep an eye on.

We have seen very little from Juan Mata so far. Usually when he is on top of his game, he makes Chelsea tick. They can't get the Spaniard on the ball at the moment though. It seems that the Benfica midfield and defence have identified him as the danger man.

CHANCES! But for some smart defending by the Blues, Benfica would be in front. First Cardozo sees a shot blocked by Cahill, before Ashley Cole throws himself in the way of Salvio's rebound. Then, seconds later a neat passing move ends up at Gaitan's feet, but he fires way over the bar from 10 yards out. Will they regret passing up so many opportunities?

BOOKING! This caution for Chelsea midfielder Oscar makes Matic's escapes even more unbelievable. Yes there is contact between Oscar and Enzo Perez, but it's slight. If that's a booking then how an earth did Matic escape without punishment for the foul on Ramires?

CHANCE! Another one bites the dust for Benfica, although the pitch is to blame on this occasion. A short free kick is played into the area for Rodrigo, but just as he is about to shoot from six yards out, he slips on the wet playing surface and Lampard is able to hack clear. Chelsea are a yard off the pace right now.

You'd expect Mata to do so much better in this position. He collects the ball 25 yards from goal and the Benfica defence seems to part for him. However, instead of driving towards goal, he makes the wrong decision by trying to play in Oscar. The ball is easily cut out and the danger is gone. That's surprising because Chelsea would not have wanted any other player in that position normally.

There's been a few signs in the last couple of minutes that Chelsea are beginning to play their way into this contest. They've slowed things down to their pace, with the likes of Oscar and Mata starting to win free kicks inside the Benfica half.

Chelsea's latest free kick is swung dangerously into the area by Mata from the right, but no blue shirt puts in a challenge and Benfica's Brazilian goalkeeper Artur has an easy punch clear. That's a wasted opportunity for Chelsea because had anyone made a near post run, they could have opened the scoring.

CHANCE! A further indication that Chelsea are beginning to find their feet as Artur is called to make his first meaningful save - he almost makes a mess of it as well. It's Oscar who has the shot from the edge of the area, but it is lacking in power. However, Artur still cannot hold it and only collects at the second attempt.

A foul by Ivanovic on Perez 25 yards from goal has given Benfica a free kick in a very dangerous area. Cardozo looks like he fancies this one...

...It was Cardozo who struck it, but the wall did what it is supposed to and stood firm. The ball cannons up into the air and is eventually cleared by Cole.

CHANCE! You get the feeling that Benfica may live to regret not taking some of these chances. More neat play inside the area presents an opportunity for Gaitan 18 yards from goal, but his effort with the outside of left foot flies over the top.

SAVE! Chelsea really should be testing Artur on a more regular basis. Yes Lampard's shot from 20 yards out swerves, but the Benfica keeper's positioning is all wrong. He gets lucky though and manages to divert the ball over the bar with his left hand.

That Lampard effort came after a much needed spell of possession for Chelsea. They've struggled to have any periods with the ball so far, with Benfica having made most of the running. What's worrying from a Chelsea point of view is that there doesn't appear to be much on the bench to swing things in the their favour. Victor Moses perhaps?

BOOKING! Benfica defender Garay goes into the book for a trip on Oscar as one minute of stoppage time is revealed.

HALF-TIME: Benfica 0-0 Chelsea

Rafael Benitez is bound to be the happier of the two managers heading into the break purely because his side are not losing. On another day, they could have been a goal or two behind. Most of Chelsea's work has been done outside of the Benfica area, although we will no doubt be encouraged by Artur, who has looked shaky in goal.

To be honest, there is not much that Benfica coach Jesus can say to his players. They've created more than enough openings, but a combination of poor finishing or the wrong final ball has prevented them from breaking the deadlock. Tactically they have been spot on, so it's just a case of making the most of their opportunities after the restart.

If the clinical touch continues to desert them, Jesus may call upon leading goalscorer Lima. He's scored 27 goals in all competitions this season and must be itching to get on and prove a point. As lively as Rodrigo has been, he hasn't looked like scoring. Give it 15 or 20 minutes and that could well be the switch.

Here is a statistic from Opta that sums up the entire half from a Chelsea point of view: "38% - Chelsea had just 38% of possession in the first half vs Benfica, some way short of their PL season average of 55%. Subdued." It's not often that you see Chelsea have very little of the ball. As the stat shows, they are used to dominating matches.

But what can Benitez do to change it? He may be looking at his replacements around about now and won't exactly be inspired. Yes Moses is capable and maybe Marko Marin, but boy could they do with Eden Hazard. It may also be worth bringing on John Obi Mikel, which would allow Lampard to get forward on a more regular basis. Other than that, he needs more from the players on the pitch because so far they have underperformed.

BACK UNDERWAY! Here we go then. Chelsea get the second half started. Both teams need to improve in different areas of the pitch if they are to win this in normal time.

It's been a positive start from Benfica, who have caused problems with a couple of free kicks into the heart of the Chelsea penalty area. The Blues have just about done enough to clear the danger, but it was by no means commanding. Worrying stuff for the Premier League side.

DISALLOWED GOAL! Big escape for Chelsea - they really need to grab a foothold in this game. Gaitan sends over a cross from the right, which Cardozo meets with a powerful downward header. The ball nestles in the net, but the flag is immediately up for offside. Replays showed that it was his left shoulder that was beyond the last Chelsea defender - how unlucky.

Much, much better from Chelsea as they start to get men beyond lone striker Torres. Ramires is just flagged offside as he goes through one-on-one, before Oscar sees a chance blocked by Luisao. It may not sound much, but at least it's a sign of intent that has been lacking for large parts of this match.

GOAL! Benfica 0-1 Chelsea (Torres)

The best moment in Torres's Chelsea career? Probably! He shows the strength and pace that has been absent for long periods of his time with the Blues to shake off Luisao. That leaves him with Artur to beat, which he does by shimmying to the right, before turning the ball into an empty net. That's really smart work from the Spanish international and the Blues lead. Daylight robbery!

BOOKING! Torres now has the wind in his sails. He cuts in from the right and drives at the Benfica defence. Having got his head up to pass, he's then halted by a sliding challenge from Luisao. That's a cynical foul and a deserved booking.

SUBSTITUTIONS: Benfica coach Jesus reacts by bringing on his leading goalscorer Lima in place of Rodrigo. It was a change that always looked likely. Left-back Lorenzo Melgarejo is also replaced by Ola John. That's attacking from Jesus, but he doesn't have any other choice now.

PENALTY TO BENFICA!

GOAL! Benfica 1-1 Chelsea (Cardozo, pen)

What an earth is Cesar Azpilicueta doing? Some will call it unfortunate, but his hand is needlessly up in the air and once the ball had struck it, he had denied a goalscoring opportunity. Cardozo steps up to take the resultant spot kick and drills it straight down the middle, with Petr Cech having dived to his left. The Benfica striker immediately goes down clutching his leg instead of celebrating, it looks as though he may have cramp. The game restarts without him.

Cardozo is back with us and here is a stat about the striker from Infostrada Sports: "Cardozo equals Cavani on 7 Europa League goals this season. Only Libor Kozak has scored more in the main tournament in 2012/13 (8)."

Since the two goals, the game has lulled a touch. Both seem to be of the mind that another goal could well be a winner - we are getting to that stage now.

PENALTY APPEAL! Torres hits the deck inside the area and demands a penalty, as do the Chelsea supporters behind the goal. To be fair Luisao does have hold of him, but his fall is dramatic, which probably doesn't help his cause. The Dutch official waves play on, much to Torres's disgust.

SUBSTITUTION: A third and forced switch for the Portuguese outfit as Garay is unable to continue. He's picked up what looks to be a knee injury. On comes Jardel, who was signed two years ago to replace Chelsea-bound Luiz.

SAVE! Smart work from Cech, who watches a looping volley from Cardozo closely until the time is right for him to tip it over the bar. It had to be done as well because the ball was dropping just inside the top corner.

Those long legs that Luisao possesses come in handy some times. Ramires bursts into the box for Chelsea and looks as though he is about to pull the trigger. The Benfica defender slides in though at the last minute and turns the ball behind for a corner. Shorter players would not have been able to make that.

OFF THE BAR! That is fantastic from Lampard and he deserved so much more. Having weighed up his options, he shoots 30 yards from goal. The effort has beaten Artur all ends up, but the ball cannons to safety off the crossbar. What a winner that would have been. Two great strikes from Lampard tonight, neither have found the net though.

There will be three minutes of stoppage time. Where's your money? Will we see a late winner or does extra-time await us?

Chelsea have a corner. One minute left...

GOAL! Benfica 1-2 Chelsea (Ivanovic)

Ivanovic has won it! Amazing scenes in Amsterdam. Mata whips over the corner to the back post. The Serbian defender is alert and loops his header back across goal. Time seems to stand still as the ball drops into the right hand corner of the net - cue big celebrations from the Chelsea fans, players and coaching staff!

CHANCE! But he almost turns to a villain instantly. He fails to clear a long punt forward, leaving Cardozo with a chance from six yards out. Cahill throws out a leg though to rescue his fellow centre-back. Breathe Chelsea fans!

FULL TIME: CHELSEA HAVE WON THE EUROPA LEAGUE

Well, that was a dramatic. Do Chelsea deserve it? Arguably not. However, the better sides make a habit of winning matches that they don't necessarily deserve to. They went the long way round, but they've done it.

It's good to see Benitez out there on the pitch embracing his players. The Spaniard has copped for a lot stick, most of which has come from his own supporters! But he's done a good job at Chelsea and has put some silverware in the trophy cabinet. Having also qualified for the Champions League next season, you can't argue with that.

Match winner Ivanovic talking to ITV Sport: "It's a very great thing. We deserve this. It's been a difficult season with a lot of games. Today was a very hard game but we scored from two set pieces. We deserve to get the trophy."

And goalscorer Torres: "It's been a very tough game. Maybe Benfica deserve a bit more. The first half was not good enough in many ways. We changed our mentality and you could see the difference in the second half. I signed a five-year contract and I hope to stay.

And here is some words from interim boss Benitez: "It was a great performance in the second half. In the end I think we deserved it because we've worked so hard this season. I'm proud, obviously."

Let's hear from Lampard as well: "It's been an amazing time. Talk about some ups and downs. We are a group and a team. It was a bit tired at times because we've had a long, hard season. No-one deserves it more than Ivanovic because he's been fantastic. The club deserves this as well. I really hope [that I will be here next season]. The club have been brilliant."

The Benfica players are now going up for their medals. You have to feel sorry for them because they created enough chances to win this game. They also conceded two sloppy goals from their point of view. Following this and the weekend loss to Porto, it's bound to be an unhappy dressing room. Their coach has a lot of work to do in the coming days.

Here come the Chelsea players. Benitez leads them up and he has beaming smile on his way. Why wouldn't he?!

Oh dear. Terry has stripped down to his kit. Twitter is probably about to explode with jokes. Does he have his shin pads on?!

Up goes the trophy! Lampard and Terry lift it high. Great scenes if you are a Chelsea fan. Yet another title for Russian owner Roman Abramovich. Say what you want about him, but they do win things under the billionaire. 11 trophies in 10 years.

That's all we have time for from Amsterdam in what was another big night in the history of Chelsea. Thanks for joining us and be sure to look out for our analysis of the clash, as well as the match reaction, which will be on the site shortly. Until next time, goodbye.

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