Chelsea hold on last trophy hopes in Europa League

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 May, 2013, 3:28am


Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez last night refused to be drawn on speculation that Jose Mourinho is poised to return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season to replace him in the dugout.

Benitez has accepted that he will leave Chelsea when his temporary contract expires at the end of the season, but he was reluctant to address rumours about the identity of his successor.

Speaking ahead of the return leg of his side's Europa League semi-final with Swiss side FC Basel, Benitez said: "It's not my business. I have to concentrate on my business, which is with Basel tomorrow."

Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata also shied away from discussing the probability of Mourinho's arrival, but he did give his backing to Benitez, who has faced protests from some of the club's fans since he was appointed in November.

"It's not the players' business right now," said the Spaniard. "We have so many important things still to come. We just have to be focused on what we're playing for, which is a very important trophy for the club. All I can say is that we're working really, really well with Rafa, and that's the truth for me."

Chelsea take a 2-1 lead into tonight's game at Stamford Bridge, after David Luiz's injury-time free kick secured victory in the first leg at St Jakob-Park last week.

The London club are bidding to add a first Europa League crown to the maiden Champions League title they won last season, but Benitez says Basel's pedigree means they cannot afford to look too far ahead.

"We play against a very good team," he said. "Everyone has to realise it will be difficult. First of all we have to win and after we can think about the final."

In the other semi, Benfica must overcome a 1-0 deficit from last week's first leg in Istanbul when they host Fenerbahce at Lisbon's Estadio da Luz.