SL Benfica and Chelsea FC will contest the 2013 UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday but it is not the first time they have met – last season the English team grounded the Eagles en route to lifting the UEFA Champions League title. UEFA.com revisits that quarter-final tie.
27/03/2012: Benfica 0-1 Chelsea (Kalou 75)
Salomon Kalou earned Chelsea the first away win of their UEFA Champions League campaign. Caution and defensive rigour reigned in a tight early period that played into Chelsea's hands, and their calm at the back continued to serve them well as Benfica tried to open things up after the interval. Having already hit the woodwork through Juan Mata, the English side then completed a fine night's work on the counterattack as Kalou slid in Fernando Torres's cross with 15 minutes remaining.
"It's terrific, you couldn't have hoped for a better result," said Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo. "To keep a clean sheet is great – defensively we looked very good." Benfica coach Jorge Jesus was left to rue missed chances: "We dominated for almost the entire game and created more opportunities but ultimately luck was not on our side. We were mature, played well and did not let Chelsea create a lot. I don't think we deserved to lose."
Benfica: Artur, Pereira, Jardel, Emerson, Luisão, Javi García (Nolito 81), Bruno César (Rodrigo 69), Aimar (Matić 69), Gaitán, Witsel, Cardozo.
Chelsea: Čech, Ferreira (Bosingwa 80), Terry, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Meireles (Lampard 68), Mata, Kalou (Sturridge 82), Torres.
04/04/2012: Chelsea 2-1 Benfica (Lampard 21pen, Meireles 90+2; Javi García 85)
Frank Lampard's spot kick midway through the first half gave the Londoners a two-goal cushion in the tie and when the Portuguese side were reduced to ten men by Maxi Pereira's dismissal five minutes before half-time, the writing was on the wall. They never gave up, and with Chelsea lacking John Terry's authority after he hobbled off, equalised on the night through Javi García. Nélson Oliveira shot wide before Raul Meireles settled things on the break with a rising drive.
"We knew before the game we were going to face a good side and so it proved – we are pleased to be in the semis," said Di Matteo as Jesus echoed his sentiments from eight days before: "Even with ten men we were always better than Chelsea. We bow out full of frustration as we feel we were much better in both legs. We didn't deserve to lose."
Chelsea: Čech, Ivanović, Terry (Cahill 60), Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Mikel, Mata (Meireles 79), Kalou, Torres (Drogba 88).
Benfica: Artur, Pereira, Emerson, Javi García, Capdevila, Bruno César (Rodrigo 72), Matić, Witsel, Aimar, Gaitán (Djaló 61), Cardozo (Nélson Oliveira 57).
Into the last four of the UEFA Champions League for the sixth time in nine seasons, Chelsea stunned many by overcoming FC Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate to get to their second final. Against FC Bayern München in the German team's own backyard, the Blues were second favourites in the final but the pundits had not given Didier Drogba his due. The Ivorian striker was a force of nature, scoring an 88th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw before converting the penalty that took the UEFA Champions League to London for the first time.
Five days after the Chelsea second leg, Benfica lost 1-0 to Sporting Clube de Portugal in the Lisbon derby, a result which all but confirmed the Eagles as Liga runners-up behind FC Porto. Jesus's side did finish with a trophy, however, goals from Rodrigo and Javier Saviola helping them overcome Gil Vicente FC 2-1 in the League Cup final.
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