Last season’s Champions League winners fell behind to Mohamed Salah’s fine 45th-minute goal for the Swiss champions, but Fernando Torres and Victor Moses maintained their impressive individual records in the competition by scoring within three second-half minutes.
David Luiz’s stunning curled goal ended the tie as a contest and ensured Chelsea’s passage to the May 15 final in Amsterdam against his former club Benfica – but there was no record-equalling goal for Frank Lampard on a memorable night in west London.
Chelsea are now well-placed to secure both their targets in the final weeks of Rafael Benitez’s reign, with the Europa League their eighth and final chance of silverware at the end of another turbulent season.
The Blues will hope to secure their return to the Champions League before the final and next face crucial Barclays Premier League fixtures with Manchester United and Tottenham.
The build-up was dominated by one man who had no impact on the tie: Jose Mourinho. The Real Madrid boss’ desire to be loved has heightened speculation of a return to Stamford Bridge, where he spent three successful seasons, and his name was sung throughout last night’s tie.
The self-titled ‘Special One’ will have been excited with the performances of many of Chelsea’s young side as the Blues qualified for a 12th final of the 10-year Roman Abramovich era and a fifth European final in all.
Only Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich have won all three of UEFA’s major club competitions and Chelsea’s bid to become the fourth member of that elite group began without captain John Terry. The skipper returned to the bench as one of five changes following Sunday’s win over Swansea, with Branislav Ivanovic, Ryan Bertrand, Moses, Torres and Lampard drafted in.
Basle began with intensity and fired an early warning shot when captain Marco Streller’s effort across goal went narrowly wide in the opening minute.
The Swiss were also aggressive, with referee Jonas Eriksson taking a dim view of Serey Die’s late tackle on Bertrand. As the first chants for Mourinho began, Lampard hit the post after being played through by Torres and Moses fluffed a follow-up.
At the other end Streller came close with a stunning left-footed volley before Valentin Stocker shot tamely at Petr Cech, before Ramires shot straight at Sommer following neat play by Hazard and Moses.
Basle more than matched their hosts, with Cech spreading himself to save from Salah and Chelsea survived handball appeals when Stocker’s shot was blocked by Bertrand in the aftermath.
In first-half stoppage time, Basle levelled. Stocker threaded a pass between Cahill and Ivanovic and Salah struck a curling effort into the net.
Chelsea’s response after the interval was swift, however, and began with a surge forward from Hazard, who flicked the ball back for Lampard. The midfielder’s left-footed shot was parried by Sommer, but Torres was the first to react and slid in to score.
Three minutes later, Chelsea had a second goal when Moses cut in from the left and combined with Torres. The Spaniard’s shot broke off a Basle defender to Moses, whose initial effort was blocked by Gaston Sauro before he fired in the ricochet.
Fabian Schar almost turned a Ramires cross into his own net, with Torres lurking, but it was not long before Chelsea’s third.
Lampard teed-up Luiz, 25 yards out, and the Brazilian’s left-footed shot arced spectacularly into the top corner. A Sauro shot from 25 yards deflected off Ivanovic and off the post as Basle continued to press. Sauro slid in to block substitute Oscar’s cross towards Torres, who also had an effort saved, and Basle’s Marcelo Diaz was denied by Cech before the celebrations could begin.
CHELSEA: Cech, Ivanovic, David Luiz (Ake 81), Cahill, Azpilicueta, Bertrand,
Ramires (Oscar 66), Lampard, Moses, Hazard (Mata 75), Torres.
FC BASEL: Sommer, Voser, Schar, Sauro, Steinhofer, Geoffroy, Stocker (Degen 62), F Frei (Marcelo Diaz 75), Salah, El-Nenny, Streller (Jacques Zoua 62).
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE)