[Player Ratings] Benfica 1-2 Chelsea: Ivanovic Clinches Euro Victory In Dramatic Finish
Chelsea achieved the unusual feat of winning the Europa League just 12 months after claiming the Champions League trophy. Here are player ratings for Rafa’s men
Chelsea achieved the unusual feat of winning the Europa League just 12 months after claiming their first ever Champions League trophy, in a dramatic night in Amsterdam.
Last year’s Champions League winners took the lead through Fernando Torres when the Spaniard ran through on goal before rounding Benfica keeper Artur on the hour mark. Their lead barely lasted 8 minutes though as Benfica sought an equaliser; Oscar Cardozo dispatching the penalty after Cesar Azpilicueta was adjudged to have handled inside the area.
Benfica came close before the end and Frank Lampard almost won the game with minutes to go; a long range effort struck the bar to leave the England international cursing his luck. But Chelsea’s second European trophy in 12 months was secured with just a minute of injury time to play as Branislav Ivanovich rose superbly to head back across goal. Here are my ratings:
Cech- 8- enjoyed a typically solid game, claiming the ball when needed in a commanding performance. Helped set up the first goal with a quick, long throw to put Torres in the clear.
Cole- 6- performed his defensive duties well. Not once did he let his team mates down and got forward in his usual style.
Cahill- 7- a much improved performance to the one we saw at Villa Park last week. Formed a solid partnership with Ivanovic, repelling wave after wave of Benfica attacks with some last-ditch defending. Made a fantastic double saving-tackle in the second half to deny an almost certain goal.
Ivanovic- 9- a superb defensive performance was complimented with the Serbian’s winning goal at the death. Rose highest when legs were tiring in the 92nd minute to clinch glory for his side.
Azpilicueta- 6- had an unspectacular game at right back. With Ramires out of position at right midfield we might have hoped the Spaniard to better support his team mate. Saying that, there were no complaints from the full back and he was generally solid.
Luiz- 6- took a while to settle in this game against his former club, but improved in the second half to help the Blues to victory. Generally composed on the ball and helped break up play.
Lampard- 7- led by example in the middle of the park, more often than not helping his side in their defensive duties, especially in the first half when some vital interceptions where necessary. Was very unlucky not to score the winner with a beauty from long range.
Mata- 6- it was unfortunate to see the little magician have one of his quieter games in a blue shirt. While the Spaniard rarely put a foot wrong, Chelsea fans would have hoped for more from their player of the season, especially in the first half when Benfica put them under pressure. Looked missing for much of the first half, but did improve in the second, providing the assist for Ivanovich’s winner.
Ramires- 7- played out of position for the whole game, it seemed Benitez’s decision to start the Brazilian wide-right had backfired, especially after a first half where there was little contribution. However he came into his own in the second half and caused Benfica problems on a number of occasions.
Oscar- 6- like his countryman on the opposite side, Oscar seemed isolated for long portions of the first half, only showing flashes of his brilliance. However there was much improvement in the second half.
Torres- 8- found himself dropping deep in the first half as Chelsea struggled to cope with Benfica’s all out attack. But the Spaniard kept working hard and earned his reward when he ran on to a long Cech throw to round the keeper and score the opening goal.
It may seem an unusual way round to go about things, but Chelsea’s second major European trophy in the space of 12 months will certainly delight those fans who crossed the channel to Holland if not Mr Abramovich who appears to craze European success. Rafael Benitez was far from Blues’ fans ideal candidate when he took over from Roberto Di Matteo, but the Spaniard has undoubtedly been a success at Stamford Bridge, steering the club to a top 4 finish whilst bringing home a major trophy. I’m sure most of the fans who took pleasure in booing the interim manager when he took over are jubilantly celebrating another chapter in Chelsea’s glorious recent history.
What were your ratings from the game? Leave your views in the comments section.
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