David Luiz, lucky to be on the pitch after a shocking challenge, scored with the last kick of the game to give Chelsea a 2-1 win at FC Basel in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final after the Swiss side had leveled with an 87th minute penalty on Thursday.
Victor Moses gave Chelsea a 12th minute lead with a soft goal but Basel, after an uncertain opening, fought back well after the break and looked to have grabbed a deserved draw until the Brazilian curled in a free-kick from 25m in the fourth minute of injury time.
The goal silenced a raucous St Jakob Park which was still celebrating Fabian Schaer’s penalty for the hosts.
However, David Luiz was lucky to escape with a yellow card after a studs-up challenge on Philipp Degen late in the game. Schaer was also fortunate not to be dismissed for a late tackle on Eden Hazard.
“We played against a good team, you could see the intensity and the pace of the game, but we had enough chances to score and the penalty, which was a surprise for everyone, could have made a difference,” Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez told ITV.
“All around me nobody felt that it was a penalty because the ball was in the air, it was a very strange decision,” he said.
Basel, playing their 19th match of a marathon European campaign which started away to Estonia’s Flora Tallinn in the Champions League second qualifying round in July, have beaten Manchester United and Bayern Munich at home in the last 18 months.
However, the English Premier League start got the start they needed following a Frank Lampard corner.
Branislav Ivanovic leapt and missed the ball, distracting the defense, and Moses immediately behind him, scored with a downward header which bounced and rose into the top of the net.
Valentin Stocker nearly leveled for Basel early in the second half as he exchanged passes with Marco Streller and evaded Lampard only to see his effort hit the foot of the post.
The hosts, who are aiming to become the first Swiss side to reach a European final, leveled when Cezar Azpilicueta was controversially judged to have fouled Stocker.
Schaer stepped up to dispatch the penalty and the Basel fans behind goal celebrated with pyrotechnics.
Both teams went for the winner before David Luiz struck to give Chelsea a potentially decisive lead for next week’s second leg.