Benfica may have dazzled on the field with amazing coordination, but goals from Chelsea put them down. While both teams tried to get the ball down and play it around the pitch, nerves were setting in with possession being conceded cheaply. After probing Chelsea’s defence for a while, Benfica produced some lovely passes. A threatening pass to Gaitan in the 12th minute was stifled by the imposing Chelsea defence, and the ball went wide of the mark.
Superb football from Benfica at the early moments could not translate into a goal.
Chelsea’s first attack came in the 18th minute when Juan Mata drove forward but an attempted pass to Oscar proved abortive.
With the legendary Eusebio, Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini all watching from the stands, Benfica swiftly dictated play for the first 20 minutes, but lacked the bite in front of goal.
Oscar tried to turn Andre Almeida’s pass into a goal in the 22nd minute but was brought down for a foul. Mata took the free- kick in search of Gary Cahill but Benfica defenders cleared the danger.
Chelsea eventually sorted out some of their attack frailties, and clawed back into the game in the 27th minute when Ramirez teed up Oscar, but the youngster’s shot from well outside the box was never a problem for Benfica goalkeeper Artur who made a comfortable save.
The Portuguese had time to get on the lead in the 31st minute after Ivanovic brought Enzo Perez down 27 meters from goal, for Oscar Cardozo to blast the ensuing free- kick straight into the Chelsea wall.
In the 38th minute, Artur would have been caught napping silly when a Franck Lampard swerved shot had the goalkeeper tip the ball round the post to deny the Chelsea legend a chance of getting his 204th goal.
Both teams were nonetheless incapable of producing a more purposeful effort at goal as referee Bjorn Kuipers of the Netherlands signaled the interval with a blast from the whistle.
Just like the first- half, Benfica got off to a fine start in the second- half as Eduardo Salvio instantly won a free- kick off Cole, the quickly- taken free- kick got to Salvio in space on the right for his superb delivery into the box to be cleared by Cahill.
Chelsea struggled to get the ball out of their own half for the first 5 minutes after the interval, dishing out a couple of free- kicks for the Portuguese.
After a series of attacks on the Chelsea defence, Benfica came close to scoring when Cardozo got on the end of a cross from Gaitan on the right and found the bottom corner with a top header. The goal was disallowed as the striker was ruled offside.
Chelsea’s first real chance at goal after the interval came in the 55th minute, after Torres was impeded by Luisao, but Mata’s effort from the left side of goal was headed clear with ease by the defenders.
In the 60th minute, Salvio arrived at the far post to meet Gaitain’s cross from the left but he can only head straight at Cech. The goalkeeper quickly lofted the ball forward and Mata got the flick- on to send Torres through on goal. The striker managed to shake off Luisao before rounding Arthur out and firing into an empty net.
The goal was just what the game needed as the Chelsea fans trembled in the Amsterdam Arena.
Benfica were forced to push forward in search of an equaliser as ex- Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic managed to beat two Chelsea players before colliding with Oscar on the edge of the area. The foul was given against Benfica, however.
Torres was tricked into an offside position by the Benfica defence in the 65th minute after a Lampard play- in, much more of a swagger in Chelsea’s play.
Benfica then won a penalty in the 67th minute after Cesar Azlpilicueta handled the ball. It was a clear penalty and Cardozo stepped up to convert the spot, kicking right down the middle as Cech went the wrong way.
Chelsea have conceded 6 penalties in Europe this season, two more than any other side in the Europa or Champions League.
The game was balanced again. In the 71st minute, Mata played a fine through ball to pick out the run of Ramires but Garay makes an excellent challenge to bring an end to the attack.
The Blues had their own penalty shout in the 75th minute as Torres went down in the box after a challenge from Luisao. Play on says the referee.
On the 80 minute, Torres caused real danger for the Portuguese but his ball to Ramires was poor and forced the midfielder well wide of the area, allowing Benfica to regroup.
Cardozo then took a stunning volley from the edge of the box in the 81st minute, which brought out a fine save from Cech, headed for the top corner.
Benfica failed to produce any clear- cut chance from some series of corners before Azpilicueta rifled a volley at goal from the edge of the box in the 87th minute, albeit not troubling Artur.
Chelsea attacked down the other end in the 88th minute. Lampard picked it up in space outside the area. He shot at goal but saw it rebound off the bar.
Both sides were desperate to get a late winner but recourse got to Chelsea in the 90th minute after Ramires won a corner off Jardel. Mata sent the corner in and found a running Ivanovic. The defender rose the highest and fires home an excellent header to find the far top corner. Artur was well beaten by the ball, Chelsea were back in the lead.
However, Cardozo got onto the ball after a mistake from Ivanovic to clear a goal- bound pull- out, but Cahill’s tackle stopped his plans.
Chelsea are amazingly the holders of both the Champions League and the Europa League, at least for the next ten days.