Chelsea have stolen a win in Switzerland in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal tie against FC Basel, and David Luiz’s injury time free-kick gave Chelsea a win that looks set to earn them a spot in the finals. Basel started the match dominantly, and enjoyed a lot of early possession. But Chelsea looked dangerous on the counter-attack, and Cesar Azplilicueta was given much joy down the right flan. It was Azpilicueta’s cross that lead to Chelsea’s opener in the thirteenth minute when The left-back’s bouncing cross from the right found Frank Lampard at the front post, and the Englishman tapped it towards goal, forcing Basel goalkeeper Yann Sommer into a good save to push it wide for a corner. Lampard swung the corner in to the middle of the box, and after Branislav Ivanovic missed the header, it deflected off the head of Moses and Mohamed El-Nenny somehow failed to nod it off the line at the far post. Basel immediately bounced back, and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was forced into an acrobatic save to tip Fabian Schar’s curling free-kick over the bar.
Although Basel looked dangerous, Chelsea kept slowing down the pace of the game. Valentin Stocker hit the post with a miss-hit cross, but Chelsea had their chances too, with Sommer performing wonders to claw away Ramires’s half-volley from the right side of the box in the thirty-sixth minute. The Blues should have doubled their lead right before halftime, but Eden Hazard’s first touch after Moses had put him through on goal with a through ball was too heavy, forcing the Belgian to poke his shot past an oncoming Sommer wide of the post. Neither side could score before the half though, which ended 1-0.
Basel looked very dangerous early on in the second half, and after playing a nice one-two with Marco Streller, Stocker cut inside from the right, before beating Frank Lampard and rattling a low shot off the left post hand post. Chelsea also hit the woodwork in the start of the second half, when Hazard brilliantly avoided Schar’s challenge on the left in the fifty-fourth minute. Hazard ran down the byline, before cutting the ball back to Fernando Torres, who’s first time shot from the middle of the box smashed off the inside of the post and bounced back into the area.
Although Chelsea started to look more and more dangerous, Fabian Frei’s swerving effort from twenty-five yards out flew just wide of the post. Chelsea had looked to claim the win, but in the eighty-seventh minute referee Pavel Kralovec awarded a strange penalty to Basel when Azpilicueta slightly bumped into Stocker and won the ball. Schar sent Cech the wrong way, with Chelse players furious at Kralovec. Chelsea immediately looked like they would equalize, and Sommer somehow kept out John Terry’s header from point blank range after Ramires had flicked on Mata’s corner. Amazingly, Chelsea regained the lead in the sixth minute of injury time, when Luiz’s free-kick from twenty-five yards out found a whole in the wall, and wriggled through the arms of a diving Sommer, who really should have saved the shot. The goal turned out to be the last kick of the game, with Basel having a lot to do in the second leg in London if they are to seal a place in the finals.
Man of the Match: David Luiz