• Europa League semi-finals

Luiz magic as Chelsea storm into Europa League final

ESPN staff
May 2, 2013
David Luiz scored the goal of the night to settle Chelsea's Europa League semi-final with Basel © Getty Images

Chelsea have the chance to clinch back-to-back European successes after three goals in nine second-half minutes turned their tie against Basel and booked a Europa League final showdown with Benfica.

The Blues, who won the Champions League last season, are now one game away from adding the Europa League crown to their trophy cabinet after they won 3-1 against Basel at Stamford Bridge to advance 5-2 on aggregate.

Rafael Benitez's men fell behind to Mohamed Salah's fine 45th-minute goal for the Swiss champions, but Fernando Torres and Victor Moses maintained their impressive individual records in the competition by scoring within three second-half minutes.

David Luiz's stunning curled goal ended the tie as a contest and ensured Chelsea's passage to the May 15 final in Amsterdam against his former club Benfica - but there was no record-equalling goal for Frank Lampard on a memorable night in West London.

Chelsea are now well-placed to secure both their targets in the final weeks of Benitez's reign, with the Europa League their eighth and final chance of silverware at the end of another turbulent season. The Blues will hope to secure their return to the Champions League before the final and next face crucial Premier League fixtures with Manchester United and Tottenham.

The build-up was dominated by one man who had no impact on the tie: Jose Mourinho.The Real Madrid boss' desire to be loved has heightened speculation of a return to Stamford Bridge, where he spent three successful seasons, and his name was sung throughout.

Mourinho guided Porto to successive Europa League and Champions League triumphs in 2003 and 2004, but now Chelsea could achieve the feat in reverse order and hold both trophies for a period of 10 days. The self-titled 'Special One' will have been excited with the performances of many of Chelsea's young side as the Blues qualified for a 12th final of the 10-year Roman Abramovich era and a fifth European final in all.

Only Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich have won all three of UEFA's major club competitions and Chelsea's bid to become the fourth member of that elite group began without captain John Terry. The skipper returned to the bench as one of five changes following Sunday's win over Swansea, with Branislav Ivanovic, Ryan Bertrand, Moses, Torres and Lampard drafted in.

Lampard took his tally to 201 Chelsea goals - one short of Bobby Tambling's club goalscoring record - with a penalty against Swansea and began in a deep-lying midfield role alongside Luiz, who scored the last-gasp free-kick in Switzerland which gave the Blues the advantage in the tie.

Fernando Torres scored Chelsea's first © PA Photos

Basel began with intensity and fired an early warning shot when captain Marco Streller's effort across goal went narrowly wide in the opening minute. The Swiss were also aggressive, with referee Jonas Eriksson taking a dim view of Serey Die's late tackle on Bertrand.

As the first chants for Mourinho began, Lampard hit a post after being played through by Torres and Moses fluffed a follow-up. Yann Sommer denied Torres with a smart save and then made a straightforward one from Eden Hazard.

At the other end Streller came close with a stunning left-footed volley before Valentin Stocker shot tamely at Petr Cech, and Ramires shot straight at Sommer following neat play by Hazard and Moses.

Basel more than matched their hosts, with Cech spreading himself to save from Salah and Chelsea survived handball appeals when Stocker's shot was blocked by Bertrand in the aftermath. In first-half stoppage time, the visitors levelled. Stocker threaded a pass between Cahill and Ivanovic and Salah struck a curling effort into the net.

Chelsea's response after the interval was swift and began with a surge forward from Hazard, who flicked the ball back for Lampard. The midfielder's left-footed shot was parried by Sommer, but Torres was the first to react and slid in to score.

Three minutes later, Chelsea had a second goal when Moses cut in from the left and combined with Torres. The Spaniard's shot broke off a Basel defender to Moses, whose initial effort was blocked by Gaston Sauro before he fired in the ricochet. The strike meant Moses has four goals from four Europa League games; Torres has five from five.

Fabian Schar almost turned a Ramires cross into his own net, with Torres lurking, but it was not long before Chelsea's third. Lampard teed-up Luiz, 25 yards out, and the Brazilian's left-footed shot arced spectacularly into the top corner.

A Sauro shot from 25 yards deflected off Ivanovic and off a post as Basel continued to press, but Streller and Stocker were substituted. Sauro slid in to block substitute Oscar's cross towards Torres, who also had an effort saved, and Basel's Marcelo Diaz was denied by Cech before the celebrations could begin.

In the night's other semi-final, Benfica emerged victorious after they won 3-1 on the night to beat Fenerbahce 3-2 on aggregate in Portugal. Nicolas Gaitan levelled the tie inside nine minutes at Estadio da Luz, but Dirk Kuyt's penalty left Benfica needing to score two more. Oscar Cardoza got the first of them after 35 minutes and then got the clincher in the 66th minute to set up a showdown with Chelsea.

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