Chelsea overcame a fighting effort from Benfica in Amsterdam to secure the Europa League, their second European trophy in succession.
Emotions got the better of Benfica players and fans alike and showed visibly to the viewers and the critics that this trophy actually is meaningful.
The Europa League is a second tier European competition effectively that culminated in the amalgamation of the old UEFA/Fairs Cup and the Cup Winners Cup. It has been sufficiently revamped in the past few years and now structurally resembles the Champions League but with more knockout stages.
Teams competing in this competition at least this year contained some past Champions League winners including Liverpool, Internazionale, Marseille, PSV and Steaua Bucharest. Ajax Amsterdam, Benfica and Chelsea joined in the knockout stages.
It also contains heavyweights that either finish outside the Champions League places in their respective leagues or won the cup. It also offers teams from the Champions League finishing third after the group stages safe passage to the Europa League knockout stages.
Often criticised, the main problem many teams and supposedly fans have is if they need to play qualifiers for the event then matches start in July and that makes for a long season and interferes with pre-season, tours and general preparation.
A valuable trophy is given to the winner and they do however playoff for the European Supercup against the Champions League winner and a chance for more silverware. Players long for success and trophies – they won’t tell you this is worthless!
The winning goal came from a Branislav Ivanovic header in the third minute of injury time. Oscar Cardozo, Benfica’s goal scorer on the night was overcome with the loss. His penalty strike brought the scores level after Fernando Torres opened the scoring on the hour mark with a fine run and composed finish after rounding the goalkeeper.
A tense 30 seconds followed the Ivanovic goal but then Chelsea players could celebrate and lift the famous cup; The 11th trophy win since Roman Abramovich bought the club.