Senior figures Frank Lampard and Petr Cech were both delighted to lift the Europa League on Wednesday as we wrapped up our second continental title in as many years.
It was four days less than a year since we lifted the Champions League in Munich, and last night we added the Europa League to our trophy haul, making us the first British club to have won every UEFA competition, and the first club ever to hold both the Champions League and Europa League titles at the same time.
It had looked for long periods early in the game as though Benfica would take the trophy, but we snatched a lead through Fernando Torres, and despite a leveller from Oscar Cardozo’s penalty, Branislav Ivanovic headed home in injury time to seal a memorable, historic victory.
‘It was another incredible night for us,’ said Lampard afterwards. ‘The minute you get into the Europa League people talk about the disappointment but when you get to a night like this it makes it all worthwhile.’
Cech, who made one outstanding save from Cardozo shortly after Benfica’s equaliser, believes we were rewarded for treating the competition in the right way having been knocked out of the Champions League groups.
‘We were disappointed to go out of the Champions League but we wanted to do well in the Europa League and we respected the competition and tried to win it,’ said the Czech.
‘We won it and it’s great because we have another chance at the Super Cup, which will be played in Prague, so I am going home to play there.
‘When we had a corner it brought back memories and I said to myself we would score. It was the right time! It’s fantastic. We had to play so many games but the reward at the end is brilliant.’
Lampard admitted we had not been at our best, but felt we did enough to stay in the game and almost won it himself with an 88th minute shot that rebounded back off the crossbar.
‘When I hit it and it was bending back I thought it would dip in,’ said the 34-year-old. ‘I was disappointed at the time because it was 88 minutes and I thought that would be the end of it, but those games become so nerve-wracking at the end.
‘We didn’t play well in the first half, we didn’t turn up. We allowed them to play football but we hung in there.
‘I was worried they would go and do something because they had some opportunities late on as well. When Ivanovic won the header it took a lifetime to drop in but it was fantastic.
‘Every season since he has been at the club he has been an absolute professional and he is a man you want on your side. You only have to look at him to see what a beast he is, he goes under the radar a bit because he just does his job but what a player. He’s a pleasure to play with and a great man, and he particularly deserved it out of everybody.’