Published May 02, 2013
| Sports Network
London, England – Chelsea secured a place in the Europa League final on Thursday after posting a 3-1 second-leg and 5-2 aggregate victory over FC Basel at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues grabbed the upper hand in the first leg of the semifinal tie last week when David Luiz gave the club a 2-1 victory in Switzerland courtesy of his outstanding free kick in stoppage time.
But it was Basel who snatched the momentum just before halftime on Thursday when Mohamed Salah held off his run in the box to stay onside by a step before being played through by a nice ball from Valentin Stocker and ripping it low past Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech to make it 2-2 on aggregate at the interval.
After the intermission, however, it was all Chelsea, as the hosts snatched a 3-2 aggregate lead in the 50th minute when Frank Lampard ripped a shot on target from outside the box that was stopped by Basel goalkeeper Yann Sommer, but he spilled the rebound right to Fernando Torres, who easily slid it home for his fifth goal of the competition.
The hosts made it a 4-2 aggregate advantage just two minutes later when Torres chipped a pass over to Victor Moses in the box, who fought off a tackle, ran down the loose ball and beat Sommer to the bottom right corner.
Nine minutes later, the Blues booked their ticket to the final in style when Lampard played a soft layoff pass outside the box to Luiz, who cracked a perfectly-weighted, curling, left-footed strike straight into the top left corner, leaving Sommer with zero chance for a save to make it a 3-1 lead on the night and 5-2 on aggregate.
Chelsea will compete in the final of a major European competition for the second straight season after winning last year's Champions League final over Bayern Munich in penalty kicks.
In Thursday's other semifinal fixture, Benfica rallied from a 1-0 first-leg deficit with a 3-1 victory over Fenerbahce at the Estadio de Luz to advance to the final by a 3-2 count on aggregate.
Nicolas Gaitan opened the scoring for Benfica eight minutes in, but a penalty kick from Dirk Kuyt made it 1-1 on the day and 2-1 on aggregate for the Turkish side.
But Oscar Cardozo scored in the 34th and 66th minutes to secure a place in the final for Benfica, which will meet Chelsea on May 15 at the Amsterdam Arena in the Netherlands.