Europa League: Rafa Benitez feels Chelsea got what they deserved with late winner against Basel
Chelsea's interim manager salutes David Luiz's decisive strike in Europa League semi-final
Rafa Benitez said that his Chelsea players were motivated by the injustice of a late penalty award against Cesar Azpilicueta to push forward for David Luiz's last-minute winner against Basel that leaves them on the brink of a Europa League final next month.
Benitez's team won 2-1 but not before Fabian Schär equalised on 86 minutes from the spot following a bizarre decision by the Czech referee Pavel Kravolec to give a penalty against Azpilicueta for what her said was a foul on Valentin Stocker. Until then Chelsea had looked reasonably comfortable in this Europa League semi-final first leg with a 1-0 lead given to them by a goal deflected in off Victor Moses.
Benitez said: “I think it's true that we had this feeling that we didn't deserve to concede this goal, which was an extra motivation. Sometimes you know David Luiz is really good taking free-kicks, even if the keeper could have saved it, but he scored the goal in the end and everyone would say it was fair.”
Luiz's goal, from a free-kick, gives Chelsea a one-goal lead and two away goals to take into the away leg at Stamford Bridge next Thursday. Benitez added: “I think it was [a deserved win]. We played against a good team, you could see the intensity and the pace of the game but we had enough chances to score and the penalty, which was a surprise for everyone, could have made a difference.
”All around me nobody felt that it was a penalty because the ball was in the air, it was a very strange decision.
“It is always important to win. To score an away goal is important but to score two and win is even better. David Luiz did a great job but I am really pleased for the team because they all did well.”
Luiz was also lucky to stay on the pitch following a bad tackle on the former Liverpool defender Philipp Degen. Luiz said: “Scoring two goals here against a very good team and with the last kick of the match is amazing for us, but we have to keep our minds strong for the second leg because that is another difficult game for us.
”I want to go to the final. It is not finished yet, we need to play the second leg and it is important for us. I want a title for my career and for Chelsea as well. I didn't see the penalty. I cannot say it is not because the referee gave it. A draw would have been okay but to win is better.“
Ashley Cole will miss the return leg after picking up his second booking. Benitez said: ”I said that Gary Cahill and Ashley were both available and could play. We decided to play Ashley because we knew they were dangerous in this area with the pace. I was surprised with his yellow card. It was too quick. We will miss him for the next game. But Ryan [Bertand] has been doing well.“
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