FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: A FAIR WIN

Posted on: Fri 26 Apr 2013

Had Chelsea not returned from Switzerland with a first-leg lead in our Europa League semi-final then Rafael Benitez would have been speaking of an injustice for the second game running. Instead it was Chelsea's turn to score in the final seconds of a match, and it was no more than we deserved according to the manager.

David Luiz with a free-kick in the 94th-minute secured a 2-1 win. Victor Moses scored first but Basel equalised after 86 minutes when the referee decided Cesar Azpilicueta had given away a penalty.

'For us it wasn't a penalty,' said Benitez. 'To give a penalty it had to be very clear.

'We had this feeling that we didn't deserve to concede this goal so it was extra motivation. David Luiz is good at taking free-kicks but the keeper could have saved it, but at the end everyone was thinking this was fair.

'We had to work hard to the end. We had chances in counter-attack when we could have scored the second goal. The penalty was a surprise for everyone but the second goal at the end was good enough.'

On the game overall…
'It was a very intense match, high tempo, and we knew that we were playing a team that don't lose at home and beat a lot of teams. We had chances in counter-attack, could have scored more goals and I will it say again, Basel are a good team.

'I was really pleased with the wide players, Ramires on the right and Victor Moses on the left. I was pleased with the rest of the team as well but these two were very important players in different positions, defending like a full-back in some areas and attacking like a winger. They were doing a great job for the team.'

On selecting Ashley Cole for the first time in three and a half weeks and the booking for delaying a throw that rules the left-back out of the second leg…
I played Ashley because Basel were very dangerous in this area and they have pace. He played very well and we were surprised with the yellow card, it was too quick. We will miss Ashley for the second leg but Ryan [Bertrand] is doing well anyway.'

On prospects for the second leg at Stamford Bridge…
'We have the knowledge of Basel's game against Tottenham so we know they are a team who can score goals away as well as at home, so we have to make sure we are concentrated, not over-confident and do our job. If we play well we can beat anyone, so we have to do that.'

 Basel manager Murat Yakan naturally believes his side have a chance in the second leg but admitted it will be hard for them to keep a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge. He said they found it harder to play their natural game than against Tottenham in the previous round…

'We were trying to dominate the match and be creative all match long,' Yakan stated.

'We were well-organised but Chelsea were also well-organised and were set up well in defence. We didn't find free space. They took advantage of set-pieces with the tall players they have in the team.

'The fans must have loved the game seeing all the chances there were, Towards the end it looked like Chelsea were happy with the 1-1 draw as well, but we lacked a little bit of concentration.'