AMSTERDAM: Benfica coach Jorge Jesus struggled to accept that his team had been beaten by Chelsea in the Europa League Final here writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
His team, he said, felt as if they had been “gunned down.”
The Portuguese club have played and lost seven European finals since winning the Champions Cup in Amsterdam in 1962 and they had more than enough chances to have turned history around.
In the wake of the 2-1 defeat Jorge Jesus said: “Benfica showed to all the world that they should have been the worthy winners and proved that they are a high quality team.
“The Benfica fans were better than the Chelsea fans. They deserved a Benfica victory for their passion and for the patriotism they showed. The most difficult thing about this defeat for me is because of our fans.”
For “most of the 93 minutes” his team had been superior in terms of organising, technique and tactics.
He added: “My team played high quality football from a technical and tactical point of view against a very good team who are strong on the counter attack.
“In the first half we were able to prevent Chelsea from using the counter-attack but in the second half we were not so successful.
“However we were the team who were closer to scoring the first goal and, after Chelsea scored and we drew level, we appeared closer to scoring the winning goal.”
Benfica had conceded a costly late goal to Porto last week which tilted the domestic championship race but now they had to pick themselves up again because “we still have two more ‘finals’ to play. There is the Portuguese cup and we haven’t lost the championship yet.”
Jorge Jesus took pride and consolation in the praise he had received for his team’s display from both UEFA president Michel Platini and old Dutch hero Johan Cruyff.
But that was little consolation for his players in distress over their defeat.
He said: “The players felt they didn’t deserve to lose. Emotionally they felt after the game as if they had been gunned down.”