Goalkeeper Artur was left wondering just how SL Benfica lost the UEFA Europa League final, but he insists the team will depart Amsterdam with heads held high – and that their time will come.
"We are very sad," he told UEFA.com. "We did everything we could to win and I cannot explain how we lost because everything we needed to do, we did. This is a group with a lot of merit. We made this stage of the competition deservedly and we showed the world what Benfica are about. We showed that Benfica are now ready to start winning."
The Eagles came close to starting a little earlier as they dominated Chelsea FC for much of Wednesday's final until Fernando Torres rounded Artur to fire in the opening goal on the hour following a swift break. "We were expecting Chelsea to hit us on the counterattack, but we had total control, we were better, playing some beautiful football," the keeper said. "We had chances but unfortunately, like last season against them, the cagey but clinical team came out on top."
Last term Chelsea blocked Benfica's path to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals; this time, Branislav Ivanović's dramatic 93rd-minute winner denied the Portuguese side UEFA Europa League glory. For Artur, success is only a matter of time. "We brought the Benfica fans to another European final after a wait of 23 years. This is the rebirth of a feeling that the club hasn't experienced for a while now and we will continue to work in the knowledge that good things will happen soon.
For Ola John, who came on just before Óscar Cardozo's 68th-minute equaliser from the spot, there is just one vital ingredient missing. "I don't think [defeat] had anything to do with inexperience; maybe it is more about luck – more bad luck for us," the forward said. "We played a very good first half but we didn't score and you know if you don't take your chances then your opponents will eventually get chances of their own. They did and they scored."
The last-gasp clincher was a bitter pill to swallow, especially after a similar ending to last Saturday's potentially Liga-deciding meeting with FC Porto, when another 2-1 defeat left Benfica needing favours this weekend to claim the title. "This last week, all that was missing was a small detail here or there," rued Artur. "I am sure our luck will soon change and something good will happen to us. The way we've played over the last 11 months means we didn't deserve to lose like we did tonight."
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.