Chelsea interim-coachRafael Benitez hailed his players for overcoming a questionable late penalty to beat FC Basel, 2-1, in the first-leg of their UEFA Europa League semifinal at St. Jakob Park. If Chelsea progresses, it will play either Fenerbahce or Benfica in the final in Amsterdam on May 15th. The Turkish side won the first-leg of its Semifinal, 1-0, at home.
Victor Moses headed the visitors in front from a Frank Lampard corner in the 12th-minute. The visitors would then go on to spurn several chances to increase the lead. Three minutes from time, referee Pavel Kralovec awarded Basel a penalty for a Cesar Azpilicueta challenge on Valentin Stocker, when replays suggested the Spaniard had fairly won the ball. After Fabian Schar converted from the spot, it appeared as though the game was destined for a draw until David Luiz’s free-kick deep into stoppage time, which turned out to be the decisive last kick of the game.
"It was not a penalty and we were surprised it was awarded,” Benitez said after the game. “To give one, it has to be very, very clear, and no one around me felt it was a foul. I was worried when that went against us ... 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.”
The Spaniard said the Blues would not be complacent going into next Thursday’s second-leg at Stamford Bridge. “We have the experience of what Basel did to Tottenham Hotspur [in the quarterfinal], so we know they're a good team who can score goals home and away, so we have to be sure to concentrate next week,” he said. “We can't be overconfident in the next game. We have to do our job, even if we know that, if we play well, we can beat anyone."