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Chelsea faces Basel in Europa League semis
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 04 - 2013

Mohamed Salah of Basel scores during the Europa League quarterfinal second leg match against Tottenham Hotspur in Basel, Switzerland, Thursday. — AP
NYON, Switzerland — European champion Chelsea will play Basel in the Europa League semifinals, with the first-leg match in Switzerland.
Fenerbahce will face Benfica, with the opening leg played in Turkey, after UEFA made the pairings Friday.
Chelsea aims to complete an unlikely double by lifting the second-tier trophy as the reigning Champions League winner.
All four semifinalists began the season in the Champions League before being eliminated and dropping into the second-tier competition.
First-leg matches are on April 25, and return games are on May 2.
The final is on May 15 at Amsterdam Arena.
None of the semifinalists has won the Europa League, or its predecessor the UEFA Cup. Benfica was beaten finalist in 1983, against Anderlecht.
On Thursday, Chelsea reached the semifinals despite losing 3-2 to Rubin Kazan in the second leg of their quarterfinal, while Premier League rival Newcastle crashed out.
The London club went through 5-4 on aggregate after winning 3-1 in last week's first leg.
The Premier League side got off to a glorious start, taking the lead in the fourth minute when Fernando Torres lobbed into an empty net as Rubin keeper Sergei Ryzhikov came racing out of his area.
Rubin was given hope when Spanish defender Ivan Marcano headed in a cross from compatriot Pablo Orbaiz six minutes into the second half, but Victor Moses soon restored Chelsea's lead on the night, playing a one-two with Ramires and then curling a shot into the net from 15 yards. That goal left the Russians needing to score four times without reply.
Captain Gokdeniz Karadeniz did pull one back before Bebras Natcho converted a penalty after Cesar Azpilicueta was harshly penalized for a foul on Aleksandr Ryazantsev in the box. That allowed Rubin to win the game on the night, but Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez was pleased to be in the semifinal.
Newcastle was held to a 1-1 draw by Benfica but was beaten 4-2 on aggregate after a 3-1 mauling in Portugal in the first leg.
Fenerbache reached its first European semifinal after a 1-1 draw in Italy against Lazio gave it a 3-1 aggregate win.
Senad Lulic put Lazio ahead on the hour mark inside an empty Olympic Stadium in Rome — punishment for the Italian side's woeful record over racism.
But on 73 minutes Caner Erkin equalized to put the Turks into Friday's semifinal draw.
In Switzerland, Basel beat Tottenham 4-1 on penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw for a 4-4 aggregate. — Agencies


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