By Brian Homewood
BASEL, April 25 (Reuters) - David Luiz, lucky to still be on the pitch after a shocking challenge, scored with the last kick of the game to give Chelsea a 2-1 win at FC Basel in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final after the Swiss side had levelled with an 87th minute penalty on Thursday.
Victor Moses gave Chelsea a 12th minute lead with a soft goal but Basel, after an uncertain opening, fought back well after the break and looked to have grabbed a deserved draw until the Brazilian curled in a free kick from 25 metres in the fourth minute of injury time.
The goal silenced a raucous St Jakob Park which was still celebrating Fabian Schaer’s penalty for the hosts, who are aiming to become the first Swiss side to reach a European final.
However, David Luiz was lucky to escape with a yellow card after a studs-up challenge on Philipp Degen late in the game. Schaer was also fortunate not to be dismissed for a late tackle on Eden Hazard.
Basel, playing their 19th match of a marathon European campaign which started away to Estonia’s Flora Tallinn in the Champions League second qualifying round in mid-July, have beaten Manchester United and Bayern Munich at home in the last 18 months.
But the English Premier League start got the start they needed following a Frank Lampard corner.
Branislav Ivanovic leapt and missed the ball, distracting the defence, and Moses immedately behind him, scored with a downward header which bounced and rose into the top of the net and should have been cleared by Mohamed Elneny on the line. It was his fourth European goal of the season.
Valentin Stocker nearly levelled for Basel early in the second half as he exchanged passes with Marco Streller and evaded Lampard only to see his effort hit the foot of the post.
Chelsea replied when Fernando Torres, wearing his ‘Mask of Zorro’ to protect a broken nose, smashed a left foot shot against the post after Hazard survived a reckless challenge by Schaer and pulled the ball back.
Chelsea survived several scares as Basel dominated the final half hour and the hosts levelled when Cezar Azpilicueta was controversially judged to have fouled Stocker. Schaer stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty and the Basel hardcore fans behind goal celebrated with pyrotechnics.
Both teams went for the winner and before David Luiz struck to give Chelsea a potenitally decisive lead for next week’s second leg. (Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)