Powerful Chelsea secure final berth against Benfica
Chelsea 3-1 Bruges (Chelsea win 5-2 on aggregate)
CHELSEA crushed FC Basel 3-1 on Thursday for a 5-2 aggregate semi-final victory to secure their place in the Europa League final against Portugal's Benfica later this month.
The reigning European champions, 2-1 ahead from the first leg in Switzerland last week, lost that advantage when Mohamed Salah scored for the Swiss champions with the last kick of the first half, curling his shot past Chelsea keeper Petr Cech.
But interim coach Rafa Benitez's men came storming back with three goals in nine minutes early in the second half. Fernando Torres, Victor Moses and David Luiz all scored - the curly-haired Brazilian with a stunning 25-metre curling shot that effectively ended Basel's resistance after 59 minutes.
Frank Lampard, needing one goal to equal Bobby Tambling's all-time Chelsea scoring record of 202, almost got it but hit the post with a fine strike in the ninth minute while Fabian Frei of Basel smashed the ball against the bar in the 63rd minute.
In the other semi-final, Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo's double helped beat Fenerbahce 3-1 in Lisbon to win 3-2 on aggregate.
Benfica took just nine minutes to cancel out Fenerbahce's 1-0 lead from the first leg when Nicolas Gaitan clipped in Lima's low cross.
The Portuguese were stunned when Dirk Kuyt levelled midway through the half from the penalty spot after Ezequiel Garay handled, an away goal for Fenerbahce meaning the hosts needed to score at least twice more.
Cardozo's fine left-foot finish restored Benfica's lead on 35 minutes in a breathless first half and his decisive strike came on 66 with another crisp low shot from inside the area.
The final is in Amsterdam on May 15.