If the feeling after losing in the 91st minute against Porto was mostly shock and refusing to actually accept that they’ve lost the league title, probably, Benfica faced true despair, depression and every other negative sentiment you can think about as they conceded once again in injury time to see the Europa League title slip away from their fingers in a match they were the better team in, letting all the tears and pain show on their faces, shattered from the inside.
There was no drop from Jorge Jesus to the ground. There was a sense that if Benfica continued to try and pass the time in the final minutes, Chelsea would bite them and punish them for their negativity. Same as their final approach in Porto, Benfica suddenly stopped playing to win, and those who try to come out with draws usually don’t end up with the desired result. It ended with a goalkeeper not ready for such a weird angled header from Branislav Ivanovic, and a bunch of Benfica players on the ground crying.
The better team doesn’t always win, especially not against Chelsea, as the last 12 months have taught us, when it comes to European finals. Benfica weren’t as dominant as Bayern were last year, but they played the better football for most of the match, and if it wasn’t for a Gary Cahill slide, Oscar Cardozo might have done enough to score his second, another equalizer.
They speak of a curse that Bela Guttman cast upon the team, but that’s trying to escape their own mistakes. A team that is the best in Portugal and faced an inferior opponent in a European final should have come out with more than two 2-1 losses in injury time. For all the wonderful soccer they’ve played this season, their conservatism in the ending of matches, and their indecisiveness in front of goal when they were truly dominating, is what took glory away from them. Don’t let anyone use other excuses.