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Friday 26 April 2013

Europa League: Last-gasp Luiz earns Chelsea win in Basel

Late David Luiz free-kick gives Blues 2-1 UEFA Europa League semi-final advantage over Basel

Victor Moses (right) gives Chelsea an early lead over Basel in St-Jakob Park

It may have taken a strike 17 seconds from the end of the match to seal a 2-1 victory over FC Basel but Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez felt the slender UEFA Europa League semi-final first-leg victory was no less than his side deserved.

The Blues looked as though they would have to settle for a draw after Fabian Schar cancelled out Victor Moses's 12th-minute goal with a penalty awarded for a foul by Cesar Azpilicueta on Valentin Stocker with only three minutes remaining.

"We deserved to score a second goal, and sometimes you have some good luck as a result”
Rafael Benitez

However, David Luiz's free-kick in the final minute of added time earned the European club champions the all-important aggregate lead to take into the return leg at Stamford Bridge.

Benitez commended his side for reacting well in adversity by using the setback of Basel’s goal as a spur to salvage the match. "It's true that we had this feeling that we didn't deserve to concede this goal, this penalty, which was an extra motivation," said Benitez. "I was worried when that went against us. But, in the end, though, everyone would say the win was fair.

"The feeling was that we deserved to score a second goal, and sometimes you have some good luck as a result. It was a deserved win."

Although both sides hit the woodwork, Stocker for the hosts and Fernando Torres for the visitors both rifling shots against the post, Chelsea might have snatched a winner in the frantic onslaught that followed Schar’s spot-kick.

Oscar had a late chance before John Terry was denied by a remarkable point-blank save from Yann Sommer. David Luiz, though, had the last word, at least until next Thursday. Not that Benitez is taking progress to the final for granted.

"We have the experience of what Basel did to Tottenham Hotspur [in the quarter-final]," said the Spaniard. "We know they're a good team who can score goals home and away, so we have to be sure to concentrate next week. We can't be over confident in the next game. We have to do our job, even if we know that, if we play well, we can beat anyone."

Fenerbahce will take a 1-0 lead to Benfica next week in the other Europa League semi-final thanks to Egemen Korkmaz's second-half winner.

UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg results

Basel (Schar) 1-2 Chelsea (Moses, David Luiz)
Fenerbahce (Korkmaz) 1-0 SL Benfica

Second legs to be played 2 May

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Key Points

  • Chelsea edge a 2-1 win over FC Basel in first leg of UEFA Europa League semi-finals
  • Added-time free-kick by David Luiz earns Blues slender win after Fabian Schlar cancelled out Victor Moses's opener
  • Chelsea host Basel in return leg on Thursday 2 May