Chelsea's Benitez calls on team to channel will to win
Manager believes team must funnel the same desire that snatched victory over FC Basel
Agence France-Presse in Basel
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has challenged his side to channel the will to win they showed in roaring back to snatch a 2-1 win at FC Basel in the first leg of their semi-final.
Chelsea needed a 94th-minute free kick from David Luiz to prevail at St Jakob-Park on Thursday, having seen Victor Moses' 12th-minute opener cancelled out by a controversial Fabian Schar penalty three minutes from time.
Benitez said he had been "surprised" by referee Pavel Kralovec's decision to award a penalty for a challenge on Valentin Stocker by Cesar Azpilicueta, and said his side's late response had been fuelled by a sense of injustice.
He also called on his players to funnel that desire into the campaign to secure a place in next season's Champions League, which continues with a game at home to Swansea City in the Premier League tomorrow.
"We had this thing that we didn't deserve to concede this goal, so it was extra motivation," he said. "The keeper could have saved the free kick, but in the end we scored the goal and I think everyone was thinking it was fair.
"We're working so hard and when you can win these kind of games, the feeling is much better. [The Premier League] is a different competition, but we have to take the positives and try to keep the momentum."
Although his side are well-placed to reach the final, Benitez said Chelsea must learn from the misfortunes that befell Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs were beaten on penalties by Basel after a 4-4 aggregate draw in the quarter-finals and Benitez said his side would need to show due care in their return leg at Stamford Bridge next week.
"We have the experience of Tottenham, so we know this is a very good team and they can score goals home and away," the Spaniard said.
"We have to be sure we are concentrated and not overconfident, and do our job. If we play well, we can beat anyone, so we have to do it."
Luiz had been fortunate to escape with only a yellow card after catching Philipp Degen on the shin with an ugly foul shortly before Basel's equaliser.
However, Benitez said the Brazilian, who played in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role, had been the recipient of rough treatment himself. "He did a great job. They were pressing him a lot of times and he was getting some fouls [against him]," he said. "Maybe the yellow card was right because it was a bit late."
In the other semi-final, Fenerbahce hit the woodwork three times, but a 72nd-minute goal from Egemen Korkmaz gave them a 1-0 home leg advantage over Benfica going into the second leg in Portugal. Korkmaz headed home powerfully from a corner to give a wafer-thin victory as the Turks bid to reach their first European final.