Chelsea 2-1 Benfica
Ivanovic delivered the Blues in last minute of extra time to win a close tie with an unstoppable header.
Reaction from the coaches:
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez:
‘It is a special night for everyone involved because when you play a European final and you win you have to be pleased, and I am really proud for everyone,’ said Benitez as he answered post-match questions.
‘Benfica is a great team and they were doing a great job. For us 69 games in a season is not easy, players were playing too many games, and we were playing against a team that was pressing high.
‘Their full-backs get forward and we knew they could be exposed in defence so we had to play behind defenders,’ he explained ‘Also they are very strong at set pieces but defensively they are weaker in some points, so we were trying to take advantage of these things.
‘The game plan was trying to run behind defenders, and Ramires and Oscar could run behind and Fernando Torres also, and Juan Mata was between the lines trying to find them. And in the end Fernando with his pace could be dangerous.
‘Ivanovic scored a great goal and it was something that we were practicing because we knew how they were defending corners and we tried to exploit problems they have. We were working with the technical staff analysing this, and David Luiz was telling us because he was there [at Benfica] before about problems they were having with this, so we were trying to take advantage.’
On Torres, Chelsea topscorer in the Europa League with six goals…
‘We have had a lot of players improving in the season and Fernando was one of those players. People were saying that Rafa was appointed to get the best from Fernando but he has improved a lot. He has been working hard with the fitness coaches and the technical staff. I am happy that Fernando scored and I am happy that we won.’
On how committed the players were to the Europa League campaign…
‘It was quite easy to motivate them because they are good professionals. It is a team in transition with young players but they were still winning, and when they know a manager is leaving at the end of the season and still they fight and work so hard, as a manager you have to be pleased.’
On whether, if Chelsea finish third in the Premier League as well as winning the Europa League, the season should be considered a success…
‘It depends on the perception. We won the Europa League with one striker, the same striker played every game, and we managed with players with yellow cards and in the league it was the same. With a squad that was not too big, today with one or two injuries we had 18 players. I think that we did well.
‘After today we have scored 145 goals which is a record in the history of the club. We do not conceded too many, the balance is growing and we are improving a lot of things, but if you have to win for people to realise the job you are doing then it is okay, we won, and hopefully now people will say that it is not bad.’
Benfica manager Jorge Jesus
‘Most of the 90 minutes we were better than Chelsea,’ he claimed. ‘We were playing against a very good team but we understood how Chelsea plays. Chelsea is a team that has strong moments in counter-attack and in the first half we prevented their counter-attacks. In the second half we weren’t so successful.’