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Ivanovic header gives Chelsea 2-1 win over Benfica

Published: Wednesday, May 15 2013 10:21 p.m. MDT

Benfica's Oscar Cardozo, from Paraguay, celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Europa League final soccer match between Benfica and Chelsea at ArenA stadium in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday May 15, 2013.

Martin Meissner, Associated Press

AMSTERDAM — Branislav Ivanovic watched from the stands as Chelsea won its first Champions League last season. He eased the pain of missing that match while suspended by scoring an injury time winner Wednesday as his team beat Benfica 2-1 for the Europa League title.

"When you won one time, you want another one, this never stops. It is something in the sport that pushes you forward," the Serbian defender said after his looping header from Juan Mata's corner kick sealed the win in the 93rd minute.

Chelsea will now hold both European club trophies until May 25, when Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund play this season's Champion's League final in London.

"It is one of the dreams of my career to score in a European final," he added. "It is a dream for every player."

Chelsea's interim coach, Rafa Benitez, had plotted the goal on the training field with former Benfica player David Luiz.

"The second goal was something we practiced," the Spaniard said. "We knew how they defended corners and David Luiz told us problems they have" defending corners.

It was a sweet victory for Benitez, who has faced bitter criticism from the club's own fans since replacing Roberto Di Matteo in November.

Many Chelsea fans remained angry at Di Matteo's departure, after he led the club to a first Champions League title. Others haven't forgiven Benitez for allegedly disparaging comments he made toward Chelsea while Liverpool manager earlier in his career.

"That was a great performance in the second half, against a very good team," Benitez said. "I'm really pleased for the players and everyone involved."

Just as they did in last year's penalty shootout victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, Chelsea's players found a way to win against an opponent that probably would have won if it had converted its chances.

A superb Fernando Torres solo effort gave Chelsea the lead on the hour mark. Oscar Cardozo tied itfrom the penalty spot eight minutes later, setting the stage for Ivanovic's last-gasp decider.

The win made Benitez only the second coach, after three-time champion Giovanni Trapattoni, to win the trophy with more than one club. Benitez first won the competition in 2004 with Valencia.

The victory also lifted Chelsea alongside Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich as only the fourth club to win all three European titles. The Blues won the Cup Winner's Cup in 1971 and 1998.

It was a bitterly frustrating end to the night for Benfica coach Jorge Jesus and his players.

"For most of the 93 minutes, Benfica was better than Chelsea," he said. "Benfica showed the world that they should be a worthy winner."

But Chelsea won without Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard and veteran central defender John Terry, who were both out injured. It was the second year running Terry had to sit out a European final — he was suspended for last year's Champions League decider and could only look on as his team beat Bayern Munich on penalty kicks.

Terry got into his Chelsea uniform to join his teammates in their celebrations after the match.

The last-minute defeat in front of 46,163 fans at the Amsterdam Arena meant Benfica now has not lifted a European trophy since 1962. That's when a promising 20-year-old striker named Eusebio fired in two goals to power his team to a 5-3 victory over Real Madrid, also in Amsterdam. Since that victory, Benfica has lost all seven European finals it reached. Eusebio was on hand to watch the latest defeat.

It was a second crushing late loss for Benfica in just a matter of days. On Saturday, Porto's Kelvin scored in stoppage time for a 2-1 win that moved his team to the top of the Portuguese league with one game left.

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