Originally posted on Fox Soccer  |  Last updated 5/15/13
Chelsea made it back-to-back European wins as they claimed the Europa League with a 2-1 win over Benfica in the Amsterdam Arena. The final had appeared to be heading for extra-time as Oscar Cardozo had levelled from the penalty spot just eight minutes after Fernando Torres had put Chelsea ahead on the hour. But it was won in injury-time as Branislav Ivanovic rose brilliantly to head home a Juan Mata corner to give Chelsea yet more European silverware just 12 months after claiming the Champions League title. It was a night of disappointment for Benfica as they played their part in a thrilling contest in Holland. The Portuguese outfit were by far the better team in the opening half, and they enjoyed good possession throughout - but they failed to really test Petr Cech. As early as the second minute Cardozo headed over, whilst Nico Gaitan twice fired wide and Enzo Perez and Eduardo Salvio were constantly probing and driving forward from midfield. One-time Bolton loanee Rodrigo probably had the best chance of the half when a free-kick was taken short and came into him just six yards out, but he twice lost his footing and missed the chance to test Cech. Chelsea were limited but Artur had to pull off an exceptional save just before the break when Frank Lampard made a rare foray to the edge of their box and unleashed an archetypal thunderous drive, but the Brazilian managed to tip it over when he looked to be going the wrong way. Into the second half and the expected reaction from Chelsea did not materialise with Benfica pushing forward in numbers again. Gaitan saw a half-volley fly wide before Cardozo had a header ruled out for offside. On the hour mark Cech made a good save from Salvio's back-post header - but from that nobody expected what was to come as Chelsea were ahead within seconds. Cech threw the ball long for Mata in the centre-circle, he flicked it on and Torres was away, holding off Luisao and going past Artur before finishing clinically. Chelsea's lead though lasted just eight minutes. Cesar Azpilicueta handled in the box as substitute Lima flicked the ball on and Cardozo stepped up to hammer the ball past Cech. Both teams pushed on for the winner and they both had their chances. Cech was at his best as he tipped over a brilliant dipping volley from Cardozo. Then captain Lampard came within inches of winning it in the final minute of normal time but his stunning effort from 30 yards cannoned back off the bar. But, just when the game looked to be heading into extra-time, Chelsea won it. Ramires chased down a long ball to win a corner, Mata took it and Ivanovic rose unmarked to head into the corner of the net. Still there was time for Cardozo to almost be presented with a chance to take the match to extra-time, but he was denied by a great lunge from Gary Cahill and Chelsea celebrated as the full-time whistle went just moments later. The Manchester United manager, who retires after 26 years of unprecedented success at Old Trafford, explained how important it was to him to leave his post with the club back on top of the pile. Speaking on stage at the club's end of season awards ceremony, Ferguson told MUTV: "That was an issue when (wife) Cathy and I chatted about this at Christmas. At that point we had a five-point lead and I thought we had a great chance. "I said 'I really need to go out a winner. We need to win something'. After the disappointment of last season we couldn't take a second one. I was hopeful we'd win it and we did. "We had a terrific points lead. The problem is when you have a lead and you start to lose a point. When we lost to City in the Monday night game you start to think 'Christ, you can't throw this away'." That need to end on a high note extends to the final game of the Ferguson era at West Brom on Sunday too. The silverware may have been sewn up already, but Ferguson has no interest in signing off with defeat. "We need to win the game on Sunday," he added. "We won the last home game (against Swansea) and I don't want to lose my last game, that's for sure." Ferguson was instrumental in the decision to appoint Everton manager David Moyes as his successor and he explained why he felt his fellow Scot was the man for the job. United may have known plenty of success in recent seasons, but Ferguson feels the ability to deal with adversity could be crucial for Moyes. "What I know of David is he's hard working, there's an integrity about him, he's got a work ethic about him and he's a serious football man. "These are qualities he's going to need. If you look at what he's done at Everton for instance. "Eleven years without real financial backing, but he persevered and created some decent teams in the last few years. "One thing you have to do here is sacrifice and persevere. It's not always a golden path of riches. "There are hard days, there are difficult days, there are bad losses. "Our supporters have suffered many things but they've also enjoyed many things." United's chief executive David Gill is also departing at the end of the season, but he is content that the foundations being taken over by Moyes are built for success. "It will be strange (when Ferguson leaves) but we've got the infrastructure there," he told MUTV. "We have very good staff off and on the field. It'll be strange but David Moyes coming in will know he's got a rock-solid club, a club that has just won the Premier League by a big points margin." The 25-year-old, who has been at the Red Devils since 2010, has failed to force his way into Richie Barker's plans and spent time on loan at Morecambe and Grimsby in the 2011/12 season. Brodie will join his hometown club on a one-year deal on July 1 after his current contract at Broadfield Stadium expires. "We are delighted to have brought Brodie back to the north east and his home town of Gateshead," said Heed chairman Graham Wood. "He has a good record in the Conference and is a key signing for the club. Hopefully he will produce the form that saw him win the league's Golden Boot while at York." The quartet, all Academy graduates, have been deemed surplus to requirements by boss Steven Pressley having failed to make an impact this season, with only centre-back Henderson managing two first-team appearances, both of which came in September before the Scot's arrival. Pressley said: "I feel that Shaun, Will, Josh and Joe are at a point in their career where they should be really pushing for first-team football. "It's a difficult decision to let any player go but we will do all we can to help them in their future careers. "From the club's point of view, it's massively important to me that we continue to develop our own and ensure that our younger players are staking a claim for a place in the first team on a regular basis." The quartet join Richard Wood, Jordan Stewart, Stephen Elliott, Nathan Cameron and Danny Philliskirk, each of whom were released at the end of April. Abbott wants to confirm each of the new one-year deals at the same time but some minor details need to be ironed out amid ongoing the talks before a formal announcement is made. Abbott, assistant manager Graham Kavanagh - understood to now be out of the running for the Hartlepool vacancy - as well as coaches Tony Caig and Eric Kinder have each been offered fresh terms. "There are no real issues with it but I do want all of the coaching staff to be able to announce together," Abbott told the club's official website. "Hopefully we should be in a position to do that very soon. "All I do in the meantime is get on with my job. I've been told that everything will be sorted and I'm comfortable with that. "I think it is important that we do resolve it so that the fans know where we all are, but the basics of it are that we have received our offers and there are just one or two small things to sort out. "Like I say, I'm comfortable with all of that. My focus has been on looking at how we work and on restructuring things for next season. The other business tends to take care of itself. "This is normal for contract talks. It happens with players and coaches because it has to be right for everybody. We're a small coaching team and I think we're all happy to wait for everything to be agreed before we announce as a group." Meanwhile, Abbott has confirmed Matty Robson, Paul Thirlwell, Lee Miller and Josh Todd have approximately another week until their deadline to accept or reject Carlisle's contract offers. Former Celtic trainee Carey has made 32 appearances this season and his long-range strike against Hearts was this week named the Clydesdale Bank Premier League goal of the season. Striker Parkin has scored three goals this season following his move from St Johnstone. Manager Danny Lennon told the Paisley Daily Express: "I've spoken to Graham and he won't be offered a new contract. Sam Parkin will be leaving us too." Lennon added: "There are one or two who are still under contract but have also been told they can go. "We are carrying a decent squad but what we have to do in order to allow the young boys to come through is make room for them. "Football evolves all the time but, with the financial restraints placed on the club, we need people who are going to make massive contributions." St Mirren could see a major turnaround in personnel with Conor Newton, Paul Dummet and Esmael Goncalves coming to the end of their loan spells. Goalkeeper Craig Samson is expected to move on, with Motherwell and Kilmarnock vying for his services, while Paul McGowan has stalled on a contract offer amid interest from England.
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