When it comes to European competition, Chelsea FC know how to save the best until last, David Luiz's free-kick in the fourth and final minute of added time giving the Blues a 2-1 win in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final at FC Basel 1893.
It had seemed that Rafael Benítez's side would pay for missing a string of chances when Fabian Schär stroked in an 87th-minute penalty to cancel out Victor Moses' first-half header. Instead, Chelsea summoned up the spirit of Munich – scene of their dramatic UEFA Champions League triumph last term – as Luiz put them in pole position for the Stamford Bridge return next week.
Chelsea's nous in the latter stages of UEFA club competitions was evident in their confident start, with César Azpilicueta serenely gliding down the right and supplying Frank Lampard, whose toe-poke was repelled by Yann Sommer. Lampard soon helped to find an away goal for the Premier League side, though, supplying a corner that evaded Branislav Ivanović only to be nodded in by Moses.
Nor was that the visitors' only incursion into Basel territory during the first half. Eden Hazard enjoyed two excellent chances, the best of which was set up by the lively Moses, who also teamed up with Lampard to feed Ramires in space, forcing Sommer to make a one-handed stop from his angled shot. By the break, Murat Yakin's team had only truly tested Petr Čech with a venomous deflected Schär free-kick that was tipped over the bar.
The Basel faithful were almost energised by the scale of their first-half reprieve, allowing for a more enterprising start to the second period. Within two minutes of the restart Valentin Stocker had struck the foot of the post with Čech stranded; Fernando Torres replied in kind at the other end, blasting left-footed against the woodwork. The like-for-like trading of chances continued, with Torres being defied by Sommer's scrambling save, before Marcelo Díaz swept over from 12 metres.
Home enthusiasm for the task was nonetheless unwavering, and Schär's spot kick earned parity on the night following Azpilicueta's foul on Stocker. It would prove short-lived. Sommer made a miraculous save to repel John Terry's header but was powerless to keep out Luiz's set piece in a dramatic finale.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.