Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Chelsea have a trophy cabinet like no other

Chelsea players celebrate with the UEFA Europa League trophy after the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
Chelsea players celebrate with the UEFA Europa League trophy after the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
Chelsea's John Terry (right) with Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay (centre) and Bruce Buck during the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
Chelsea's John Terry (right) with Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay (centre) and Bruce Buck during the UEFA Europa League Final at the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15:  Artur of Benfica looks on as Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea (not pictured) scores the winning goal during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 15: Artur of Benfica looks on as Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea (not pictured) scores the winning goal during the UEFA Europa League Final between SL Benfica and Chelsea FC at Amsterdam Arena on May 15, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Later today, Chelsea will have something unique – a trophy cabinet housing BOTH of European football's major prizes.

It will only be for a week or so, but the Europa League trophy will sit alongside its bigger brother, the European Cup, after the Blues made history in the Amsterdam ArenA with another dramatic victory in a Euro final.

Branislav Ivanovic's stoppage-time header against Benfica made it 2-1 and got the party started for Chelsea after Fernando Torres' sixth goal in six Europa League games had been cancelled out by a penalty from Benfica's Oscar Cardozo.

For Ivanovic, it was mighty consolation for missing last year's Champions League victory over Bayern Munich.

A terrific night too for 'interim manager' Rafa Benitez –who will now be the fourth Champions League-winning boss to be forced out of Stamford Bridge.

"I am really pleased, really proud," said the man the Chelsea fans love to hate.

"The players deserve this because they worked hard the whole season."

Lampard is close to getting a new deal

Frank Lampard acknowledged “it looks good” for his chances of a new contract at Chelsea as he celebrated Europa League success last night.

The England midfielder, who last week became the club's record goalscorer with a brace against Aston Villa, added another trophy to his extensive haul with the club as they beat Benfica 2-1 in Amsterdam.

Lampard's contract expires this summer and speculation over his future at the club has been a constant backdrop this season.

But asked whether he will remain at Stamford Bridge next season, he said: “I really hope so.

“We're getting there, we haven't completely sat down on it but the club have been brilliant, it looks good.”

Lampard hit the crossbar moments before defender Branislav Ivanovic headed Chelsea's injury-time winner, Fernando Torres' opener having been cancelled out by Oscar Cardozo's penalty.

Lampard said: “I was just waiting for it to dip a little bit but it doesn't matter, we're a group.

“No one deserves it more than Ivanovic, he's been fantastic.”

Goal-scoring hero Torres said: “I am very happy. It was a very tough game, and Benfica were much better in the first half.

“The first half was not good enough at all. We really wanted to win this Europe League, and maybe this was going to be our only chance.”

Regarding his own future, Torres — who has come in for heavy criticism — said: “I signed a five and half year contract and I hope to stay at least this time.”

Defender Ivanovic insisted that despite Benfica’s dominance, Chelsea were worthy winners of another European trophy.

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

“In the end, today was a very hard game and Benfica played very well.

“But we scored from set pieces and work very hard preparing that part of our game.

“We deserve that trophy.”

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