The Blues will meet Portuguese side Benfica in the final at Amsterdam, although UEFA seem hell bent on preventing fans seeing the game as each club was allocated a paltry 9,800 tickets for a stadium that holds over 52,000. This sort of thing only encourages ticket touts, something that a governing body should be stamping out. Idiocy.
Anyway, enough of the UEFA rant, Rafael Benitez’s side suffered a slow start to the match last night and were a little fortunate that FC Basel’s players cannot shoot for toffee as Petr Cech saw many efforts go high or wide before he had to make a fine block from Mohamed Salah before the same player eventually beat him before the break.
Chelsea’s best chance of the first half fell to Frank Lampard, but the midfielder hit the post and it was as agonising for everyone else as it was for him as it would have equalled Bobby Tambling’s scoring record. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that he equals it against Manchester United and beats it when we host Andre Villas-Boas and his Spurs side, if only we lived in an ideal world.
I thought the likes of David Luiz were a little quiet in the first half, perhaps because a few of them were conscious of the fact that they were on a yellow card. They made up for it in the second half as Luiz was a thorn in the heel of Basel scoring a fantastic goal to put Chelsea 3-1 ahead.
But it was Fernando Torres that put Chelsea level as he continued his impressive goal scoring record in the competition when Eden Hazard decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck with a direct run, Lampard’s shot was saved and the Spaniard was in the right place to level the scoreline on the night.
Victor Moses was making himself busy on the left-hand side too. He linked up well with Ryan Bertrand at times and put in one of his better recent performances, and got the goal he deserved when he was on hand to slot the ball home after Torres’ shot bounced around in the penalty area.
The Blues will be looking forward to the final and despite being confident of their own form Benfica provide the toughest test yet in the tournament by far. The likes of Oscar Cardozo and Nicolas Gaitan will have to be kept an eye on and represent a genuine threat.
Only Chelsea could be on the verge of making history during a turbulent season as they bid to become the first side to hold both the Europa and Champions League titles at the same time.