• Europa League

Benitez proud after delivering European trophy

ESPN staff
May 15, 2013
Rafa Benitez was the victorious manager on Wednesday © PA Photos

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez was a proud man after capping his tumultuous tenure with Europa League success.

The Spaniard has been subjected to verbal abuse by the club's own fans since replacing Roberto Di Matteo early in November, due to unhappiness over both his predecessor's sacking and Benitez's comments about the Blues during his time as Liverpool manager.

But Branislav Ivanovic's injury-time winner, after Oscar Cardozo's penalty had cancelled out Fernando Torres' opener, ensures Benitez will leave his spell in charge at Stamford Bridge on a high.

"I'm proud,'' Benitez told ITV Sport. "It was not easy, we have been talking about this all the time so I am really pleased, really proud.

"It was a great performance in the second half. We had some problems in the first half against a very good team but I am pleased for the players and for everybody involved. They deserved it because they worked hard the whole season.''

Torres also praised Benfica's first-half display but was delighted his side were able to emerge victorious.

"It was a very tough game, maybe Benfica deserved a little more,'' he said. "They were much better in the first half but individual quality made the difference.

"It was the final, maybe the only chance we had to win the Europa League, and we won it.''

Fellow goalscorer Ivanovic, who missed last season's Champions League final due to suspension, said: "It's a great feeling to play in the final. Benfica played very well but in the end we scored from set-pieces.

"Now it's time to celebrate. These supporters and this team deserve to win a trophy this season.''

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