16 May 2013 06:30 | By MSN Thailand & AFP
PHOTOS: Chelsea claim last-gasp Europa League triumph

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

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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.

"It's a great feeling," said Ivanovic. "This team deserved this, because we have had a very difficult season and a lot of games."

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, meanwhile, joins Giovanni Trapattoni as one of only two coaches to have won the trophy with two different clubs, following his 2004 success with Valencia.

"That was a great performance in the second half, against a very good team," said the Spaniard, who has already fulfilled his primary objective of qualifying the club for next season's Champions League, despite lingering opposition from fans. He however claimed he did not need to win the Europa League to prove that he has done a good job during his turbulent six-month spell.

"I think it's sad to say this. You do your job in six months and it changes nothing if you win or lose the final, in terms of what you're trying to do," said Benitez, who has now won three continental titles.

He added: "With a team in transition, with young players, it was really difficult. But we are still winning and you saw the commitment of the players on the pitch.

"When you have a manager who is going to leave at the end of the season and they still fight on the pitch, you have to be pleased."

"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.


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