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Dirty Tackle

Chelsea win Europa League with stunning late Branislav Ivanovic header

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

Chelsea are now the first club to ever hold the Champions League title and Europa League titles at the same time (for 10 days, anyway) by beating Benfica 2-1 in the Europa League final. For Benfica, it extends their streak of seven European finals without a win. The Bela Guttman curse lives on.

After an ugly first half dominated by Benfica's supernatural inability to finish, Chelsea went on the attack and Fernando Torres opened the scoring in the 59th minute with a vintage move around the keeper before burying the ball in the far side of the net (gif here). Nine minutes later, Benfica equalized with a penalty from a Cesar Azpiliqueta handball. The match seemed destined for extra time after several near misses and ignored penalty shouts, but Branislav Ivanovic floated in a glorious header off a corner kick in the third minute of injury time to give Chelsea the historic win.

It was a match that perpetuated a number of oddities. Fernando Torres' goal was brilliant and his sixth in as many Europa League matches, but he still hasn't scored a Premier League goal in 2013. Benfica haven't won a European final in 50 years despite seven chances and mostly outplaying Chelsea. And Rafa Benitez will be given credit for vindicating himself as interim manager of Chelsea despite failing in every other cup competition and only winning the Europa League with the reigning champions of Europe. Which is a bit like winning the World Cup's third-place match with the World Cup champions.

Anyway, all hail Fernando Torres (and Juan Mata): Undisputed Master of Our Strange, Strange Universe.

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(Getty)

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Fernando Torres celebrates his goal. (Getty)

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(Getty)

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