Basel vs. Chelsea  1 - 2


Benitez delighted with away victory

26 April 2013 06:22

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez was satisfied to win 2-1 at Basel in their Europa League semi-final with the aid of two precious away goals.

The Spaniard questioned the dubious late penalty awarded to Basel but was unwavering in his praise for David Luiz, who put Chelsea back ahead with a stoppage-time free kick.

"I think we had to work hard until the end, I think we had chances to counter attack and we could have scored a second goal but the penalty was a surprise to everyone," Benitez said.

Fabian Schlar equalised from the spot three minutes from time after Cesar Azpilicueta was adjudged to have fouled Valentin Stocker, and Benitez believes the injustice of the penalty spurred his side on.

"I think in the end our second goal was good enough for us but we are a little bit worried about this penalty.

"I think it's true that we had a feeling that we didn't deserve to concede this goal so we have extra motivation.

"David Luiz is really good at taking free-kicks and you can say if we were lucky or not, the keeper could have saved it, but in the end we have scored the goal and I think everybody will be thinking that is fair.

"It was a very intense game with a high tempo. We knew that we were playing against a team that hasn't lost at home."

Benitez knew only too well of Basel's threat after they knocked out Tottenham in the previous round and said the tie was from done ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge.

"They have beaten a lot of teams and they play with this intensity which is good for their fans so we had to do our job and I think we did that really well."

Basel manager Murat Yakin said it was a case of two well organised teams split by the smallest of margins.

"I saw my team try to dominate the match and be creative for the entire game, that pleased me," Yakin said.

"We were very well organised but Chelsea were also well organised and set up very well in defence. We just couldn't find the free spaces that were needed to unlock this defence."


UEFA Europa League: Basel 1 Chelsea 2

25 April 2013 23:15

A last-minute David Luiz strike earned Chelsea a crucial 2-1 victory over Basel in the sides' UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg clash.

Both teams looked dangerous in possession throughout an evenly contested game but it was the visitors who were able to turn that threat into chances as they scored from their first attack courtesy of a Victor Moses header from a Frank Lampard corner.

It seemed likely that Chelsea would come away without a win when Cesar Azpilicueta gave away a late penalty for a foul on Valentin Stocker and Fabian Schar made no mistake from 12 yards. However, the game would take a further twist as Luiz slammed in a free-kick with seconds remaining.

After a fairly even start Chelsea grabbed a crucial away goal when Moses somewhat unwittingly headed in a 12th-minute corner. In the build-up to the goal Yann Sommer saved brilliantly from Lampard, but there was nothing he could do from the resulting set-piece as the Nigerian forward flicked a header in behind the jumping Branislav Ivanovic.

Five minutes later the home side came close to an equaliser as Schar stung the hands of Petr Cech with a long range effort. The Swiss defender fired a 25-yard free-kick over the Chelsea wall but the visitors' Czech goalkeeper saw it coming and was able to touch it over the crossbar.

Basel continued to press for an equaliser in the first half and stretched the Chelsea defence on a number of occasions, but their final delivery lacked quality and Cech was not called into action with regularity.

Two minutes after the break Basel came within inches of equalising through Stocker but the midfielder was denied by the woodwork. He drifted past the challenges of Lampard and Luiz on the edge of the area before pulling a shot past Terry, but the ball struck the foot of Cech's right-hand post and rebounded to safety.

Six minutes later it was the visitors' turn to be denied by the post as Fernando Torres saw his close-range shot crash into the woodwork. Eden Hazard glided past the challenges of two Basel defenders before playing the perfect pass to the Spaniard inside the penalty area but his first-time shot could not beat the frame.

With four minutes to go Basel were given a lifeline as Azpilicueta was adjudged to have fouled Stocker inside the penalty area. The decision looked harsh on the Spanish full-back but Schar made sure Rafael Benitez's side paid by rifling the ball beyond Cech to seemingly earn his side a draw.

However, Luiz had other ideas as he brilliantly curled home a free-kick in the last minute to hand the advantage to Chelsea ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge.


Torres commits to Chelsea

25 April 2013 04:26

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres wants to stay at Stamford Bridge for 'at least' another three years, despite speculation he could leave the club.

The Spain international arrived in January 2011 for a well-publicised 50 million pounds, but he has never been able to reproduce the form he had previously shown at Liverpool, for whom he scored 81 goals in 142 matches.

Reports have often claimed Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has grown frustrated with the World Cup winner and that he is contemplating offloading him, but Torres plans on seeing out his current contract.

"I have many things still to give to this club," Torres told reporters.

"I have three more years' contract so I'm expecting to stay at least three years.

"We won the Champions League last season. Hopefully we can win the Europa League this one. It is our priority as well as finishing in the top four.

"We want to go back to the Champions League next season and keep winning trophies. I think we have a great squad and a young squad to build on.

"We are sure that we are a great team and we want to show everyone. I would like to be involved."

Torres and Chelsea are currently preparing for their Europa League semi-final first leg against Basel, and though he admits it was disappointing to be knocked out of the Champions League, he is enjoying the run in Europe's second-tier tournament.

"All of the team is enjoying this competition," he said.

"To be out of the Champions League was a very disappointing time for us but we changed our minds and started thinking about the Europa League.

"It is one of the most important targets for us this season. We are showing everyone who were talking about Chelsea not caring about the Europa League this it is not true.

"We are already in the semi-finals and we want to go through. The team is doing a really good performance so it is easy for the striker to score goals when the team is doing well."

Since beating Steaua Bucharest in the round of 16, Torres has been forced to wear a face mask due to a broken nose and a scan next week shall determine whether he can remove it before the end of the season.

He continued: "It's getting better, but next week we will go with the doctors to get another scan to see if we can play without the mask.

"It's not comfortable at all and it depends on the results (of the scan). Maybe (I will wear it) until the end of the season because there is not many games to come."

According to the suggestions of some, Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez was appointed partly with the view to getting the best out of Torres after bringing him to Liverpool from Atletico Madrid, but the striker believes everyone has struggled in some capacity this season.

"It's never easy to change the manager in the middle of the season," he explained. "It happened to us last year and we won the Champions League.

"It happened this season again with (Roberto Di Matteo) and when Rafa came. We know each other from our time in Liverpool. It was a great time for everyone, but the situation at Chelsea is different.

"It is another club, different players, different mentality. It has not been an easy season for anyone, but I think we have improved as a team and we are all focused on the same targets.

"We still have one trophy to fight for and to finish in the top four so let's talk after the season about whether it has been good or bad."


Basel´s Yakin looking to ´dominate´ Chelsea

24 April 2013 22:20

Basel coach, Murat Yakin, has called on his side to 'dominate' proceedings ahead of his side's Europa League semi-final first-leg tie against Chelsea.

The Swiss club knocked out Chelsea's fellow English Premier League club Chelsea in the last round and the former defender hopes his side will take as much confidence from that success as him.

He told reporters: "We have been dominating our home games, we will try to do the same and we will start positively for this match.

"We still have nothing to lose and I just want to see my team playing encouraging football and produce a good performance.

"We will try to dominate here at home like we have previously, this will give us a good chance in the away leg afterwards. Tottenham was a highlight for us and over time the team grew in confidence that we will take into this game."

Basel centre-back Fabian Schar was also in good spirits ahead of the clash, citing Yakin's thorough preparation as giving the Swiss an edge heading into the match.

He said: "The whole team uses video analysis with the coach who prepares us well for the match and then each player looks at their opponent that they will have to face, do their research on them.

"But it's not only one player we have to be careful of but the whole team as a unit that we have to watch out for."


Chelsea welcome back Cole and Cahill for Basel tie

24 April 2013 17:27

Chelsea will welcome back Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill into their squad for tomorrow night's Europa League tie with FC Basel after both recovered from injuries.

Both defenders have travelled with the team and Chelsea confirmed on their website that the pair are in the 19-man squad to face the Swiss champions.

Cole hasn't played since the FA Cup quarter final victory over Manchester United on April 1st while Cahill had surgery on a knee injury in late March.

Brazilian midfielder Oscar is also in with a chance of playing at St Jakob-Park, despite fears over a groin problem which saw him substituted at Anfield on Sunday, while Oriol Romeu is still out with a long-term knee injury.


Europa League Preview: Basel v Chelsea

22 April 2013 11:57

Chelsea will be flying the flag for England when they go away to Basel in their UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday.

English Premier League teams Tottenham and Newcastle United both bowed out at the quarter-final stage, leaving Chelsea as the country's sole representative in the last four.

Chelsea were not entirely convincing as they advanced to the semi-finals courtesy of a 5-4 aggregate win over Russia's Rubin Kazan.

With Chelsea out of contention in the Premier League, UEFA's second-tier competition is their only chance to claim silverware this season.

And if Rafael Benitez's men overcome the Swiss champions, last season's UEFA Champions League winners would be on track to become the first team to claim UEFA's two club tournaments, in reverse order, in successive seasons.

However, Chelsea will need to get past a Basel outfit that have continued to impress this term.

Basel edged Tottenham 4-1 on penalties to reach the semi-finals and if they manage to book a trip to the final in Amsterdam, they would become the first Swiss team to advance to a UEFA club tournament final.

Murat Yakin's troops are the only reigning domestic champions left in the competition.

Basel have not tasted defeat on home soil in the UEFA Europa League this season and will be buoyed by the fact that Chelsea have lost their last two away fixtures in Europe.

Thursday's encounter will be the first meeting between the two clubs but Chelsea have faced Swiss opposition before, losing 2-1 on aggregate to St. Gallen in the first round of the 2000-01 UEFA Cup.

As for Basel, they've played English opposition on 18 occasions - winning three of those and losing eight.


Le Saux wants Chelsea to prioritise Europa League

20 April 2013 01:49

Former Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux believes winning the UEFA Europa League is vital for Chelsea this season.

The west London club face a semi-final against Swiss club Basel, who eliminated Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter-finals, for a place in the tournament decider.

Fenerbahce take on Benfica in the other semi-final, and Le Saux feels Chelsea are obliged to add UEFA's second-tier competition to the trophy cabinet at Stamford Bridge.

"I think when you look at the teams left in the Europa League, Chelsea are the iconic team remaining in the competition," Le Saux said.

"But it is a tough competition just to get to this stage. Basel, who we (Chelsea) play in the semi-finals beat Tottenham over two legs so it will be a tough semi-final.

"Then we wait to see who wins the other semi and hopefully we will be there for the final in Amsterdam.

"Some people say it has been a disappointing season for Chelsea, especially getting knocked out the Champions League in the group stages, but if you look at how they got knocked out, by a fine margin, it was a shame.

"The opportunity to become the first club to hold both trophies in the same season would be an amazing achievement and to be one of only three other clubs to hold all four major trophies would be marvellous and should motivate the players.

"I don't think success should be seen on whether you qualify for the Champions League as opposed to winning a major European trophy."

Le Saux also gave his backing to the club's interim manager Rafael Benitez, and believes the Spaniard could still be appointed on a long-term basis.

"It is difficult when there is a position which is probably available at the end of the season," he said.

"We still don't know if Rafa Benitez wins the Europa League and qualifies for Europe next season, will the club keep him as manager going forward?

"There is a decision to be made by the board at Chelsea.

"Whilst there is a question mark about who will manage next season, there will be a lot of names linked.

"It is flattering for them and the club to have Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini associated with the club (which) shows the status they have and the quality which Chelsea are associated with in appointing managers," he said, referring to rumours linking Real Madrid coach Mourinho and his Malaga counterpart Pellegrini with the Stamford Bridge hot-seat.


Benitez pleased with Chelsea season

12 April 2013 20:04

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez believes the club can be 'really pleased' with their current domestic and European performances.

Benitez takes his side to Wembley on Sunday to face Manchester City for a place in the final of the FA Cup while a semi-final fixture with Basel is the only obstacle between the Blues and the Europa League final.

The former Liverpool manager has consistently faced opposition from the home support, yet Benitez believes he has done well to navigate his team to their current position given the inexperience in his squad.

"In terms of two semi-finals and still in the top three (in the Premier League) we're really pleased," Benitez told reporters.

"It's a young squad with new players coming into the Premier League. We still need more experience, but that's getting better.

"It's still too early. We will see what happens at the end of the season, but top three, another semi-final. Not bad."

The 52-year-old suffered defeat to Manchester City in their last meeting in February but is adamant his side won't make the same mistakes again, while acknowledging that Basel would pose a tricky obstacle in the Europa League.

"We know what we did wrong against them (Manchester City) in the league and we'll make sure we don't make the same mistakes," he said.

"They're a good team in a good position in the table, and did well against Manchester United the other day. We know it'll be difficult but it's a semi-final in a massive competition.

"Basel is not too far away so maybe it's not a bad option (in the Europa League semi-final), only because of that. They're a good team, an offensive team, and will be dangerous as well."

Super League table

# Team MP D P
1 18 +21 37
2 18 +21 35
3 18 +7 28
4 18 +1 24
5 18 -12 24

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 17 +41 49
2 17 +26 38
3 17 +17 35
4 17 +16 31
5 17 +14 31