Benitez: It's not just about me - it's about the players

Interim manager Rafael Benitez believes Europa League glory would be just rewards for Chelsea's players.

The west Londoners will face Benfica in the final in Amsterdam on May 15 after navigating their way past Basle tonight.

Mohamed Salah, the scourge of Tottenham at the quarter-final stage, put the Swiss side ahead in the semi-final second leg, only for a flurry of goals in a nine-minute period to secure Chelsea's progress.

Fernando Torres and Victor Moses netted in quick succession, before David Luiz curled home an exquisite third to set up a final with his former club, with the semi-final ending 3-1 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate.

"I am really pleased to be there," Benitez said of the final.

"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.

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

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

"I will go back home and try to be ready for tomorrow. We have another game on Sunday.

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

"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."

Victory in Amsterdam would see Chelsea capture the lesser of UEFA's top two club honours a year on from their Champions League glory.

Continental success looked unlikely back in October when Benitez was replaced Roberto Di Matteo, who had just seen his side humbled at Juventus in the Champions League group stage.

Despite the impressive displays since, former Liverpool boss Benitez was keen not to take the praise.

"Again I would say it's not just about me," he said. "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 and win it."

The final would give captain John Terry a chance to make amends for last year's disappointment, having been suspended for the Champions League final in Munich.

Asked if the oft-rotated Terry would miss out on another European final, Benitez said: "I don't know because we have too many games to play before.

"The main thing for me is to enjoy today and be ready for the challenge of Manchester United, and then Tottenham.

"One game at a time, and concentrate on the job in hand."

While Benitez may be preaching short-termism, speculation over next season continues apace with former manager Jose Mourinho heavily linked with a return to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea fans spent most of the night serenading the Portuguese, although there remains plenty to achieve this season - with Basle counterpart Murat Yakin backing them to secure the Europa League crown and a top-four finish.

"They have the team," he said. "They're really clever, experienced, they know how to win things.

"I hope my team have given them really good preparation to go into that final and, hopefully, win it.

"The team has really grown. We've qualified round after round.

"Chelsea showed how clever they are, and it's the little details that catch you out.

"We need that bit more experience to make the step up. The little details make the difference."

More in this Section

Tuchel wants PSG to prove their Champions League credentials against Real MadridTuchel wants PSG to prove their Champions League credentials against Real Madrid

Pochettino urges Spurs to show why they are favourites against OlympiacosPochettino urges Spurs to show why they are favourites against Olympiacos

Sportsmen who have fallen foul of betting regulationsSportsmen who have fallen foul of betting regulations

Katie Taylor relishing bid to become two-weight world championKatie Taylor relishing bid to become two-weight world champion


Lifestyle

Kya deLongchamps is looking forward to another winter coloured by the transformative power of paintYour paint primer for the season ahead

A new RTÉ series takes viewers behind the scenes at Ireland’s finest eateries – including Restaurant Chestnut, a Michelin award-winner within six months of opening. Vickie Maye meets the chef behind it, Rob KrawczykGoing beyond the menu: RTÉ series goes behind the scenes at some of Ireland's finest restaurants

Whether you’re into a ‘no make-up make-up’ look or jet black lipstick, LFW had it all.These are the biggest beauty looks from a vampy London Fashion Week

It will take you out of your beauty comfort zone, but is remarkably easy to pull off.London Fashion Week: This top make-up artist wants you to ditch your cat-eye for a ‘blue fade’

More From The Irish Examiner