Chelsea bury Basel, Benfica turn tie with Fenerbahce | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 02.05.2013
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Chelsea bury Basel, Benfica turn tie with Fenerbahce

Home field advantage has worked wonders in both Europa League semifinal second legs. Chelsea stretched their lead over Basel with a second-half one-two-three punch, Benfica came from behind to beat Fenerbahce.

London club and outgoing Champions League holders Chelsea will face Benfica of Lisbon in the Europa League final at the Amsterdam Arena on May 15.

Both sides secured 3-1 second-leg wins on home turf on Thursday, knocking Basel and Fenerbahce out of the competition. Chelsea's eventual aggregate margin against Basel was a comfortable 5-2, while a single Fenerbahce strike would have turned the tide in the Portuguese capital.

At half time, however, things looked tight even at Stamford Bridge. Mohamed Salah put the Swiss visitors right back in contention with a goal moments before the break; yet this prompted a furious second-half rally from the Londoners.

The Royal Blues' masked, and oft-maligned, striker Fernando Torres scored Chelsea's first after Basel goalie Yann Sommer could only parry a Frank Lampard shot. Two minutes later, with 52 showing on the clock, Victor Moses capitalized on a penalty-area scramble to knock another home from close range.

Just before the hour mark, first-leg hero David Luiz rifled in the pick of the evening's goals, curling a first time shot with his weaker left foot into the top corner from distance. Sommer didn't move between Basel's posts.

Chelsea skipper John Terry watched the game from the bench, while supporters chanted in his favor and against coach Rafa Benitez; singing the name of current Real Madrid and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho more than once during the match. The Basel fans, perhaps surprised at the apparent lack of satisfaction even with a spot in a European final, responded with an English-language rally of "you only sing when you're winning" to berate their opposing supporters.

Dirk Kuyt (2nd R) of Fenerbahce celebrates with his teammates after scoring the 1-1 equalizer from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League semi final second leg soccer match between Benfica and Fenerbahce at Luz Stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, 02 May 2013. (Photo: EPA/MIGUEL A. LOPES dpa)

Dirk Kuyt's spot kick provided some false hope

All action at Estadio da Luz

Benfica went into the game knowing they needed to score twice to win, and they played accordingly from the opening whistle.

Within nine minutes, Lima crossed in from the right to find Nicolas Gaitan in front of goal and the Argentine knocked the Brazilian's delivery into the roof of the net.

As it stood after Fenerbahce's 1-0 win in Istanbul, the game was going to extra time - a possibility that was eradicated just a couple of minutes later. With effectively their first attack, the Turkish side won a penalty for handball. After Brazilian Cristian hit the post from 11 yards on home turf last week, Dirk Kuyt stepped up in his place and put a practically perfect penalty into the bottom corner.

Oscar Cardozo celebrates his goal for Benfica during the UEFA Europa League semi final second leg match between SL Benfica and Fenerbahce SK at the Estadio da Luz on May 2, 2013 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Oscar Cardozo's brace made the difference

Fenerbahce's typically brave effort was a largely defensive one, however, as Benfica continued streaming forward. On 35 minutes, Oscar Cardozo scored his seventh Europa League goal of the season, a low left-footer that nutmegged a defender en route to the bottom corner.

Still, by virtue of Fenerbahce's away goal, the lead on the night was not enough for Benfica. In the second half, Cardozo scored his second from close range to tip the tie in his side's favor.

A lengthy injury to Gökhan Gönül, sustained early in the second period, led to a nail-biting five minutes of stoppage time where a single Fenerbahce goal would have turned the tables once more.

But Benfica retained their advantage, to advance to meet Champions League champions and group-stage rejects Chelsea in the May 15 final.