A stark contrast to the Napoli away game as Chelsea matched the home side, defended well and snatched victory thanks to a second-half Salomon Kalou goal.
Benfica had chances, mostly for Oscar Cardoza, and Petr Cech had to save one well. We also survived a strong penalty appeal for handball by John Terry but we were rarely clinging on and could have scored more. Juan Mata hit the post and went close again late on in a second half that was far more eventful than the first.
Unlike our previous away games in this Champions League campaign, on this occasion one goal was enough as Chelsea win for the first time abroad in 13 months.
There was a surprise selection at right-back where Paulo Ferreira was given his first action of 2012. Branislav Ivanovic was not fit and Jose Bosingwa was on the bench. David Luiz replaced Gary Cahill in the centre.
Benfica made one change from their last Champions League outing, Pablo Aimar replacing Rodrigo as Oscar Cardozo's partner up front.
Prior to kick-off, David Luiz and Ramires went together to embrace their former manager Jorge Jesus and the Chelsea line-up was not short of players experienced in playing is this stadium, either for or against Benfica. What followed were 45 minutes of football during which the visiting side were pretty comfortable, if short of much goal threat ourselves.
There was danger in the fourth minute with the ball bouncing inside the Chelsea six-yard box and Ferreira not able to reach to clear, but it went wide of Cech's far post.
That moment apart however, it was a safe opening from the Blues who managed to pressure their red-shirted opponents into a few errors in midfield. David Luiz on 11 minutes spotted a gap and advanced before hitting a grasscutter wide of the Benfica goal.
On 14 minutes, Ramires clearly showed he had the legs on the Lisbon side's left-back Emerson, sprinting past to help Torres win a corner that keeper Artur punched away limply.
On 17 minutes, Meireles was booked for tripping the flying Gaitan inside the centre-circle and Chelsea failed to mark up properly as the free-kick was taken quickly, but fortunately Cardozo put a chance wide. It would prove to be their best opportunity of the half.
The next shot was by Torres, taking a David Luiz pass on his chest and then hitting the ball on the turn before it bounced. An ambitious attempt, it was well off-target.
Benfica midfielder Bruno Cesar was booked for a foul on the advanced Ferreira before there was another chance for Cardozo, a tougher one this time. He was marked by Terry as he headed a cross over. The tricky Aimar had cleverly drawn Mikel and Ramires towards him to make the space for the move.
Benfica were pressing high up the pitch and were beginning to take control. Bruno Cesar fancied his chances from distance but struck his shot straight at Cech.
On 38 minutes Chelsea made an overdue visit to the Benfica penalty area and Torres did well to surge past his initial marker but when he turned back on his left-foot, his shot flew several yards over.
Two minutes later Kalou teed up Meireles for our first shot on-target. Well-struck and swinging away, Artur had to dive to push it away.
No doubt conscious they had to make home advantage count, Benfica came out for the second-half with a vigour previously lacking. A throw into the Chelsea area wasn't headed far out by Meireles and Cardozo smacked a shot at the Chelsea goal that fortuitously hit David Luiz, back on the goal line. A foot either side of him and the Brazilian wouldn't have had time to react.
The Portuguese side kept the pressure on. Bruno Cesar struck another shot straight at Cech.
There was respite when Kalou went on a run and won a free-kick and then shortly after he nipped in front of his marker but headed a Torres cross over.
The placid first half was quickly becoming forgotten as the contest sprang to life. John Terry had been outstanding in dealing with Benfica's crosses and high balls towards Cardozo but he escaped unpunished on the hour when the ball hit his arm away from his body inside the penalty area, immediately after Cole had acrobatically blocked a shot.
The indignant Benfica would have been even more outraged had Mata scored moments later but instead the Spaniard struck woodwork. The angle had been very tight after the ball ran wide, Mata having beaten the out-rushing keeper to it, but it was still most definitely a chance.
So was Jardel's on 66 minutes when the defender looked certain to score, meeting a diagonal cross at the far post but Cech doing brilliantly to push it away. Chelsea broke and it took a foul from Luisao to stop Ramires at the cost of a yellow card.
It was time for a Chelsea change, Lampard a 67th minute substitute for Meireles who as a former Porto man received an ear-splitting whistling from the home support. Benfica made two changes including introducing former Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic.
The Benfica fans were whistling again when Terry just about diverted a dangerous-looking pass with an outstretched foot but despite Cech picking it up, no back pass was the Italian ref's verdict.
Ramires had been among the pick of the Chelsea players and he played his part in the winning goal, taking a painful whack in the process as he played Torres in down the right. The centre-forward again showed his goal-making prowess by picking out Kalou among defenders for a close-range first-time finish.
The Blues could have added a second on the breakaway when substitute Sturrridge charged forward and found Mata but his attempted chip was too high. Before that, Benfica sub Nolito had shot over.
There was still work to do for Chelsea inside stoppage time before the win was secure and as the ball was hammered threatingly into the danger zone, Cole was once again airborne to send it the right side of the post and ease the tension.
Prior to the end, Chelsea's goalkeeping coach was sent down the tunnel by the officials for a touchline misdemeanour, but that was certainly not going to spoil our night.
Chelsea (4-4-1-1): Cech; Ferreira (Bosingwa 79), David Luiz, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires, Meireles (Lampard 67), Mikel, Kalou (Sturridge 82); Mata; Torres.
Unused subs Turnbull, Cahill, Essien, Drogba.
Scorer Kalou 74.
Booked Meireles 17,
Benfica (4-1-3-2): Artur; Pereira, Luisão (c), Jardel, Emerson; Garcia (Nolito 81); Gaitán, Witsel, Bruno César (Rodrigo 68); Aimar (Matić 68), Cardozo.
Unused subs Eduardo, Oliveira, Miguel Vitor, Saviola.
Booked Bruno Cesar 25, Luisão 66, Garcia 74.
Referee Paolo Tagliavento from Italy.