UEFA Europa League: Basel 1 Chelsea 2
By Football News
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.