Chelsea defeated Everton 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to confirm a third-place finish in the Premier League and secure qualification for the group phase of the Champions League. After what was Rafael Benitez’s final competitive match in charge, the Spaniard can leave his difficult interim spell on a high having also lifted the Europa League trophy on Wednesday.
Juan Mata gave the home side an early lead after seven minutes, but Everton -- who were bidding farewell to their manager, David Moyes after 11 years in charge -- hit back through Steven Naismith less than 10 minutes later. At that point Chelsea knew that third spot could have been snatched by Arsenal, while an unprecedented playoff could also have been on the cards. But Fernando Torres struck with 14 minutes to go to ensure that they achieved the objective set out when Benitez replaced Roberto di Matteo last November.
Benitez had made just two changes from the side that triumphed over Benfica in Amsterdam in midweek with Demba Ba coming in for a rare appearance alongside Fernando Torres and youngster Nathan Ake starting in central midfield.
There appeared little hangover from their endeavors and celebrations, though, as they got off to the ideal start. Much of the responsibility for the goal must go to Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, who spilled Ba’s low effort across goal and Mata was on hand for a simple finish.
The lead would not last long, however. David Luiz, playing back in defense, lost possession outside his own box and Naismith cleverly exchanged passes with Victor Anichebe before dinking the ball over Petr Cech.
But the Blues were not to be denied a final-day win. Oscar found Victor Moses with a chipped cross and the substitute astutely nodded the ball down for Torres, who continued his good performance from the Europa League final by smashing the ball past Howard at his near post.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.