Soccer

Luiz lifts Chelsea over Basel, Fenerbahce beats Benfica

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Associated Press
4/25/2013 6:17:55 PM
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GENEVA -- David Luiz scored with the final kick of the match to clinch a 2-1 win for Chelsea at Basel in a Europa League semifinal, first leg on Thursday.

Luiz deceived goalkeeper Yann Sommer with a free kick in the fourth minute of stoppage time after Basel defender Fabian Schaer had equalized with a disputed 87th-minute penalty.

"A draw 1-1 is a good result but 2-1 is better, and me and the team are so happy with this," Luiz said.

Chelsea, the Champions League winner seeking back-to-back European trophies, led in the 12th minute from a Victor Moses header.

Fenerbahce, which has never reached a European competition final, won 1-0 at home to Benfica through defender Egemen Korkmaz's 72nd-minute header.

After a German goal rush in this week's Champions League semifinals, the Europa League contenders were all denied by the woodwork.

Fenerbahce struck the goal frame three times, including from midfielder Cristian's penalty in first-half stoppage time.

"It was a great night for Turkish football," Fenerbahce forward Dirk Kuyt said. "We may not have their quality but we have just as much fighting spirit as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund."

Return matches are in London and Lisbon next Thursday. The final will be played May 15 at Amsterdam Arena.

Basel's most famous fan, Roger Federer, watched in the main stand having predicted a 2-1 home win.

Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez restored club veterans John Terry and Frank Lampard to his lineup, and the midfielder was soon denied by Sommer saving his near-post flick.

It was from Lampard's corner that Chelsea led, with some fortune, as Moses appeared to flinch and know little about his decisive header after the ball evaded Branislav Ivanovic's leap.

Schaer forced Petr Cech to tip his deflected free-kick over the bar, but it was a rare Swiss threat.

Before halftime, Ramires was played in by Lampard and made Sommer save by diving low to his right, then Eden Hazard missed twice in the 44th with clear shooting chances in the Basel penalty area.

Basel winger Valentin Stocker and Fernando Torres for Chelsea both hit the post early in the second half.

Stocker earned the penalty when Czech Republic referee Pavel Kralovec judged that Cesar Azpilicueta's challenge to clear a cross at the back post was a foul.

"It was a very strange decision," Benitez said. "To score an away goal is really important but to score two and win is even better."

The second came after Terry and substitute Oscar were denied in stoppage time.

Luiz, who played in a central midfield role, carefully placed his low 22-yard (meter) free kick instead of firing with his trademark power, and eluded Sommer's late dive.

In Istanbul, Fenerbahce failed to make early dominance count, and Senegal forward Moussa Sow saw his 17th-minute header strike the Benfica bar.

The penalty arrived when defender Ola John tripped Gokhan Gonul. Brazilian midfielder Cristian rifled his kick against the side of goalkeeper Artur's right-hand post, and was led off by teammates at the break sobbing in apparent distress.

Cristian quickly responded in the second half by going close with a fierce shot, and Artur saved well from Raul Meireles.

Benfica rattled the home side's goal frame in the 58th when Nicolas Gaitan's cureling 25-yard (meter) shot hit the outside of a post.

Fenerbahce got the lead it deserved when Korkmaz pounced from close range as Benfica failed to clear a corner.

David Luiz (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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