David Luiz scored with the very last kick of the game to earn Chelsea a dramatic 2-1 win at FC Basel in the first leg of its Europa League semifinal on Thursday.
Basel, which was appearing in its first European semifinal, looked set to earn a draw after a contentious 87th-minute penalty from Fabian Schar cancelled out Victor Moses’ early opener.
However, deep into injury time, Luiz drove a 25-yard free-kick beneath the Basel wall and into the bottom-right corner to put Rafael Benitez’s side in control ahead of next week’s return leg at Stamford Bridge.
In the end, the only sour note for the visitor was a yellow card for Ashley Cole that rules him out of the second leg, although Basel will also be without centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic for the same reason.
Chelsea had welcomed Cole back after a three-week absence due to a hamstring injury, but its wariness was demonstrated by interim coach Benitez’s decision to deploy centre-back Luiz in a midfield holding role.
Basel eliminated Tottenham Hotspur on penalties in the quarterfinals, having knocked Manchester United out of last season’s Champions League, and it served early notice of its threat when Mohammed Elneny curled a cross onto the roof of the Chelsea net.
It was Chelsea, however, which took the lead in the 12th minute, to the disappointment of watching Basel native Roger Federer.
Frank Lampard drew a smart save from Yann Sommer with a near-post volley and from the resulting corner, the England midfielder’s cross struck Moses and ricocheted into the roof of the net.
Basel responded immediately, briefly forcing the visitor onto the back foot.
After several nervous moments in the Chelsea area, the host’s pressure told when Czech referee Pavel Kralovec penalised Cesar Azpilicueta for making contact with Stocker from behind.
Schar duly drilled his spot-kick down the middle, before Sommer produced a stunning point-blank save to deny John Terry, only for Luiz to strike in the fourth minute of added time to end Basel’s unbeaten home record in this season’s competition.
Fenerbahce posts win
In the other semifinal, Fenerbahce hit the woodwork three times against Benfica but finally prevailed through a 72nd-minute Egemen Korkmaz goal to procure a 1-0 advantage ahead of the second leg in Portugal.
Semifinal: First leg: FC Basel 1 (Schar 87-pen) lost to Chelsea 2 (Moses 12, Luiz 90+4); Fenerbahce 1 (Korkmaz 72) bt Benfica 0. — AFP