Chelsea are once again the champions of Europe after Branislav Ivanovic scored deep into stoppage time to give the Blues a 2-1 win over Benfica in the Europa League final.
The Londoners had previously gone ahead after Fernando Torres netted from a breakaway midway through the second half, but quickly saw that advantage disappear when Cesar Azpilicueta was judged to have handled the ball in the box—giving the Portuguese club a penalty that was easily converted.
After some frantic moments at both ends of the field, the game appear destined to go to extra time before Ivanovic connected on Juan Mata's curling corner—sending the blue half of the Amsterdam ArenA crowd into an absolute frenzy.
And as so often is the case with big matches like this one, there were plenty of key talking points and storylines that will continue to be discussed. Read on to see what the biggest talking points were from this year's thrilling Europa League final.
Should Benfica Have Had Another Goal?
Perhaps the most controversial talking point to emerge from the final will be that of the goal that Benfica had disallowed for offside early in the second half.
Oscar Cardozo headed home from close range, and judging by the image below, definitely had a fair claim to say that he was not offside when the ball was kicked.
For me, it's too close to call—you be the judge if you want.
However, as much as Benfica will want to protest the result and claim they shouldn't have had their goal disallowed, the reality is that they have nobody to blame for the defeat but themselves. They allowed a very soft goal through the middle for Torres, didn't pick up Ivanovic in the final minute of the game and wasted the slew of attacking chances they created by failing to actually take a shot.
Yes, the offside goal was a tough break for the Portuguese giants, but they still have nobody to blame for the final result—regardless of whether it should have stood.
What Does This Mean for Rafa Benitez?
With another trophy next to his name, one of the most intriguing questions to emerge from the final now is what the future holds for Blues boss Rafa Benitez.
The former Liverpool manager will not be returning to the club next season given the fact he's just an interim manager. He went on a lovely tirade earlier in the season as to how he wouldn't be coming back next season—so it's pretty safe to say that he won't be returning to Stamford Bridge.
But was this year all that bad for Benitez and Chelsea?
After all, he did get them to the Europa League final, and he did walk away with victory. He did get them to the FA Cup semi-finals and the Carling Cup semi-finals, which is further than the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Liverpool all got in the competition. He also has seemingly secured the Blues a top-four spot and the chance at Champions League football next year.
Benitez has won 3 major European trophies in the 21st century (1 CL & 2 UEFA/Europa League), the most alongside Mourinho.— David Wall (@1DavidWall) May 15, 2013
Really, there wasn't a whole lot more that Benitez could have been asked to do, and whilst he might have taken the frustrating road to get there, he deserves some credit for the success he's had.
Where he'll go from here still remains to be seen, but it's hard to see his resume being blighted all that much by his time spent at the West London club this season.
Is The Roman Abramovich Era Working for Chelsea?
With another European trophy set to go in the cabinet—albeit slightly different to the one they would have liked at the start of the season—one must wonder if the style of Roman Abramovich to simply bring in new managers when he gets trigger-happy is really that bad after all?
It sounds like a poor style and he was rightly criticized for firing Roberto Di Matteo less than a year after winning the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League.
But successwise, is it really that bad of a tactic?
Of course, this trophy further underlines just how skilled at running a company Roman Abramovich is. Honest.— Liam Happe (@liamhappe) May 15, 2013
Have a look at the table below for the last decade under Abramovich. Despite changing managers a lot, the rewards have been very forthcoming for the Blues.
|2004-05||English Premier League||Jose Mourinho|
|2004-05||English League Cup||Jose Mourinho|
|2005-06||English Premier League||Jose Mourinho|
|2005-06||FA Community Shield||Jose Mourinho|
|2006-07||FA Cup||Jose Mourinho|
|2006-07||English League Cup||Jose Mourinho|
|2008-09||FA Cup||Guus Hiddink|
|2009-10||English Premier League||Carlo Ancelotti|
|2009-10||FA Cup||Carlo Ancelotti|
|2009-10||FA Community Shield||Carlo Ancelotti|
|2011-12||FA Cup||Roberto Di Matteo|
|2011-12||UEFA Champions League||Roberto Di Matteo|
|2012-13||UEFA Europa League||Rafa Benitez|
It might not be popular—and it might cost an awful amount of money to do so—but it's hard to fault Abramovich for his style and success with the Londoners.
That record now speaks for itself.
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