x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Celebrations on hold as Chelsea set up Europa League final with Benfica

London club advance after beating Basle 5-2 on aggregate as Benfica overturn a first-leg deficit to beat Fenerbache.

Chelsea's Viktor Moses rides the challenge of Basle's Fabian Schaer during the London club's 3-1 win to send them through to the Europa League final in Amsterdam.
Chelsea's Viktor Moses rides the challenge of Basle's Fabian Schaer during the London club's 3-1 win to send them through to the Europa League final in Amsterdam.

LONDON // Celebrations amongst Chelsea staff and players following their progression into the Europa League final will be kept to a minimum, according to interim manager Rafael Benitez.

The Blues will face Benfica in the final in Amsterdam next month having beaten Basle 3-1 at Stamford Bridge last night to record a 5-2 aggregate victory.

Early second half goals from Fernando Torres, Victor Moses and David Luiz secured safe passage for Chelsea, who had fallen behind to a Mohamed Salah goal in first-half stoppage time.

Benfica advanced to the final after Oscar Cardozo scored twice in a 3-1 win against Fenerbahce to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.

Benfica needed just nine minutes to level the aggregate score in Lisbon as Nicolas Gaitan poked in Lima's cross.

Dirk Kuyt's 23rd-minute penalty, after Ezequiel Garay's handball, gave the Turkish club a precious away goal.

But Oscar made it 2-1 with a low left-footed drive from the edge of the area in the 35th, and the Paraguayan netted again in the 66th to earn the Portuguese club their first continental final in 23 years

With a European final berth in the bag, Benitez will now try to steer Chelsea to a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League and, with important fixtures against champions Manchester United and fellow Champions League-chasers Tottenham in the next week, the Spaniard is keen to keep celebrations low-key.

"When you play two games a week, it's not as if you can have the team and train with them," he said.

"You have to give them recovery time the day after matches. We just have to recover players and be ready. Nothing special. I'll just enjoy it with the staff."

Benitez has never been seen as a popular appointment by a majority of Chelsea fans and the Spaniard had to endure chants in support of previous managers Roberto Di Matteo and Jose Mourinho from the home fans last night.

But the former Liverpool boss has guided Chelsea to their second European final in as many seasons, even if he does not want to take personal glory from the occasion.

"I am really pleased to be there [in the final]," he added.

"I think we have worked so hard during the year to be in finals and semi-finals, and now we're in another final.

"I think the players deserve to be there. I'm really pleased for the players and everybody here. It's an opportunity for the club.

"Again I would say it's not just about me. It's about the players, the staff, the fans, the club, everyone. I was helping the team.

"As a manager you have to do your job. When you play a lot of finals, another one is really good. The main thing is we're in the final and now we have to try to win it."

Mourinho has been heavily linked with a sensational return to Stamford Bridge in the summer and Benitez will aim to go out on a high with success in Holland, even though he is expecting a stern test.

"It'll be tough because Benfica are a very, very dangerous team and hard to play against, but at least we are there," he added.

"With the commitment and the quality, we'll have a chance for sure."