Chelsea will play Benfica in the Europa League final after three second-half goals, the last a stunner from David Luiz, secured a 5-2 aggregate victory over Basel
Well the record label is in royal blue. Chelsea will play Benfica in the Europa League final on 15 May. Thanks for all your emails and company. Good night.
Chelsea 3-1 Basel (Chelsea win 5-2 on aggregate)
90 min+1: So, you know what happened last year? Do you let John Terry start the final? Basel are still having a go but Serey Die's shot which he hoped to bend into the top corner flew straight and out for a throw.
90 min: The smoke from Basel's flares is wafting across the park. There'll be three added minutes.
89 min: "Quick note of commiseration to Ian Copestake," writes Nicolle. "My recent breakup was well-documented on the West Ham v Man U mbm just a few weeks ago.I find that having your team head off to an European final helps your mood. I highly recommend it." Oh, fickle heart.
87 min: "Burkett and Bovington were the other two" adds Tom Shaw. "And I think it was the last time a team with 11 Englishmen triumphed." Serey Die is booked for going over the ball and bringing his studs down on the top of Oscar's foot. From the free kick Torres bursts into the box and shoots instead of passing to Lampard. How dare he?
85 min: Mata to Oscar who shoots and the keeper pushes it away. Paul Ewart writes: "Hasn't Luke Garrett (73 min) just summed up Steven Gerrard's career perfectly?" Well, er, you could say that, Paul.
84 min: Ake come son for Luiz as Chelsea let Basel come on to them, no doubt happy with their 5-2 cushion, apart from the Lampard discrepancy. That could be a film title. The Lampard Discrepancy.
82 min: "When West Ham won The FA Cup in 1964 seven of their players had surnames beginning with 'B'," writes Tom Shaw. "And they scored three goals in every round including the final." Ah yes. That'd be 9.87687e-14. Am I right? Bond, Brown, Brabook, Byrne, Boyce and two other gadgies.
81 min: Diaz has another long-range shot, knocking it way high and wide.
79 min: The substitute Diaz shoots from 20 yards and it clips Ivanovic on the buttock and heads for Cech's right but he reacts quickly and pushes it wide.
77 min: You know those statistics every reader loves, or so we're told? Get this one from Rahul Keerthi: "It's a bit bizarre that almost every Basel first XI player's family name starts with S: Sommer, Steinhofer, Schär, Sauro, Salah, Serey Die, Stocker, Streller. What are the odds of that? 4.7886513e-12 apparently." That is amazing. Thaaaaaaaaaaat's Staaaaaaaaaaaats.
75 min: Chelsea substitution Hazard off for Mata. For Basel Diaz comes on for Frei.
73 min: "Rate him or not, Luiz is a perfect example of the type of player England just can't produce," says Luke Garrett. "He may be prone to lapses of concentration and a handful of overly-ambitious errors each game, but he is also capable of stunning technique and game-changing moments." I'd sort of agree with you if you added "any more". I can think of scores of players from the past who had stunning technique and game-changing moments and were not guilty of lapses of concentration.
71 min: Chelsea are now trying to tee up Lampard for his Tambling equaliser but they haven't quite managed to get him in space in the box. Basel, perhaps, are wise to it and are surrounding him at corners (which he isn't taking). It looks like a Benfica v Chelsea final, BTW.
67 min: Schar drags down Torres and gives away a free-kick, 25 yards out or so to the left of the box. Lampard takes it and gets it up but not down. On it flies high into the stand. "Sorry to bring the mood down," writes Ian Copestake "(I sometimes see it as my job) but as I suddenly appear to be in the middle of a break up I wanted to say that of the things I hate in football the one that gnaws most is that 'you know what you are' chant. It really gets under my skin. Oh I forgot to say, that the chant is the thing in football I dislike more than someone who 'does not know what they want'. I think this might be the source of the extra irritation." Ian. Ian. Hope you feel better soon.
65 min: Martin Braonain points out that Uefa have some offers on their site for the final at €690 or €890. "Of course this will make the Spurs game even more enjoyable as we rub their faces in it," he writes. Off goes Ramires on comes Oscar.
63 min: Salah shoots. And it's battered back to him with a resounding clatter, so resounding I had to look up. Sadly I didn't see what it hit.
61 min: Basel subs: Streller off for Zoua. Stocker off for David Degen
60 min: Lampard set it up with a run across the edge of the box, drew a man with him to make space for David Luiz who didn't need it because he went up and over.
That was superb. It arced beautifully up and around and into the top corner.
Left foot curler from 25 yards.
57 min: Justin Kavanagh has been putting himself in Gordon Strachan's head, eating porridge bananas and seaweed, too:
Gordon Strachan line endings, the latest betting:
Do you ever think Torres will play for Spain again? If not, he could become a Scotsman.
Do you ever think John Terry will play for England again? We could organize citizenship, ya know.
Do you ever think wee Davy Luiz might declare for Scotland? We've a nice tour organized in summer 2014, if he's nae busy."
No Kammy no.
54 min: Torres or Zorres with that mask has just had a shot across the box that could have gone in had it fortunately pinballed off a defender but instead it went out for a corner.
Picked up the ball in the box after Torres's heavy touch knocked it in space in front of him and he took a tap to make the angle then hit it past Sommer with real pace.
50 min: Fantastic run from Hazard, dribbling the ball between Steinhofer and Sauro then flicking it to Lampard who was running diagonally into the area from the left. The captain opened his body and shot across goal, Sommer saving well but Torres knocking it over his second dive.
Scooped the rebound into the roof of the net after Lampard's shot was parried.
48 min: Voser squares to Stocker who taps it to Elneny on the edge of the Chelsea box and he balloons his shot over the bar. This is what Alan Hansen calls "sloppy", No5 in the list of his favourite adjectives.
47 min: Ramires fouls Voser on halfway, Salah spins the free-kick out to the right where Bertarnd gives another away. Another slow start by Chelsea.
46 min: For one glorious moment there we got the feed from the pundits panel when the match started – Gordon Starchan obviously unaware we were eavesdropping. He began by saying: "Do you ever think …?" And then the director hit the mic off.
Chelsea were picked off there at the end of the half but for the middle 30 minutes looked pretty comfortable. I'd still back them to win but the ease with which Basel broke through should concern them.
Pass the hymn book: "I hate the adverts during football, writes Gary Naylor. "They comprise three categories: things I don't want; things I can't afford; and, much the biggest category, things I don't want and can't afford."
Here's a Freudian joke from Jung Ian Copestake: "I guess Mourinho's ego would be truly uncontrollable if it was all id."
And do you remember a brief mention of Herr Vega? "Rob - as a Watford fan, I've been having a lovely season, thank you very much," writes Nicholas Grundy. "Or at least I was until you mentioned Ramon "dangerous at both ends" Vega. Thanks, Nicholas. Spurs pipped Leeds to his signing. The one that got away, thank God.
Here's a view from Brad McMillan: "Am I the only one to see similarities between Eden Hazard and Joe Cole? Both very-much hyped, both had reasonable-but-rarely-exceptional first seasons for Chelsea. Very similar stature, they even share the same running style with the ball. Overall, I'm underwhelmed." Are you? I think his lack of inhibition and his control is a genuine joy-bringer. In terms of impact, perhaps, but in promise I think he's going to be a marvellous player. What would/will Mourinho do with him? Could he be a Sneijder at Inter rather than a Cole at Chelsea for him?
Aggregate score: Chelsea 2-2 Basel (Chelsea still ahead on away goals)
Calm finish after Elneny ran from midway, waited for the defence to part, knocked it to Streller who turned through 180 degrees and slipped it past Cahill to meet Salah's run. Salah crisply lifted it over Cech's dive to score.
43 min: It wasn't Ramires but Bertrand against whom Basel appealed for a penalty. It hit him from about two yards just where his armband would be. No penalty.
41 min: Moses scorches past Steinhofer to make it to the byline just outside the box on the left but instead of dragging it back to the unmarked Lampard, hits the first defender's shins.
39 min: And then they emphasise their moments of dominance with two sharp shots in the back, Salah's shot smothered by Cech when a diagonal pass had him closing in on goal on the left and then Stocker hit the rebound into, I think, Ramires and they claimed for a penalty but it didn't look like it to me. More shoulder than arm but I stand to be corrected with another look at the replay.
37 min: Stocker almost finds Vogel free and upfield on a left-wing overlap but his pass is cut out but Stocker wins it back and switches to the right. They're lively.
34 min: Frei is bundled over in the centre-circle and Basel have a free-kick which they knock straight to Chelsea, Torres breaking through the middle then switching it to Hazard on the left but the Belgian's cross is way too heavy and drifts harmlessly over the area.
32 min: "Some fantastically wishy-washy words from Andy Townsend after Cahill absolutely wiped out a Basel player with a two-footed follow through," writes Matt Dony. "Yes, he clearly took the ball first, but c'mon, Andy. Get off the bleeding fence!" The former Chelsea captain Andy Townsend, Matt? Salah and Streller link up down the left to win a corner. They seem to be targetting Azpilicueta – it's the fifth or sixth time they've hit a ball beyond him. So far it hasn't worked but they have been close.
30 min: Whereas Hazard has got brilliant feet. He ran into the box from the left, looked to have got himself boxed in and running out of play but flicked it perfectly with his studs into Moses's feet and his square cross left Ramires having to try to steer it around his marker by the penalty spot. The shot was blocked.
28 min: For such a decent player Ramires sometimes makes a very clumsy pass. He broke quickly up the left from Cech's throw out and, instead of tapping it into Hazard's path, he kicked it at his team-mate's heels.
25 min: "Pedant's Corner," writes Greg Mungin. "Just read your intro (the game is that exciting) and you said Trap is the only manager to win all 3 titles. Udo Lattek also won all 3 and is the only manager to win it with 3 different teams." Point taken. An almost goal of the season finish from Streller off 35-yard diagonal pass from Steinhofer. He volleyed it with his left foot on the left of the box, rather Van Bastenly except for his accuracy. It was a beautifully sweet strike but sailed past the post.
23 min: "I think he's gotten a raw deal and everyone ought to just stand up at the Bridge and scream "ROMAN WTF! " at once," says Bronwyn Jones. "Not that this will do any good but I think everyone would feel better for it. The thought of Him coming back makes me squeal with delight and pleasure. I love it when people complain about his colossal ego, cause you know he should be just like that the paragon of humility Sir Alex Ferguson." Well, he could keep his hands to himself for a start. Pinch my cheek or poke my eye and I'd kick him straight in the swingers.
21 min: Chelsea corner from Lampard who employs the rare Barnes Wallis method which could have surprised the defence but instead surprised everyone and bounced across the box before the left-back belted it clear.
20 min: The momentum has switched and Chelsea are looking increasingly confident but they could have down without Hazard just taking a pot-shot straight into Sommer's arms when Moses and Torres were both in space.
17 min: Torres, the Eyes Wide Shut extra lookalike, rolled a low shot to Sommer's right and he tipped it around the post having again cut in from the left and taken a lovely back-heel return pass off Hazard. They play well together.
15 min: Torres is looking pretty sharp and made another decent angled run to stay onside, coming in from the left, controlling the ball well and slipping it down the inside-left channel for the onrushing Hazard who is crowded out by Sommer and Schar. "Blasphemy to those who do not want Him!" writes Nicolle. "I met Him the summer Abramovich hired Him and when we were introduced, He shook my hand and winked at me. My knees went weak. I was hooked. I will not hear a bad word said against Him. (Although I do admit time and stress have weathered Him as it does us all.) (And OK maybe He does lean towards pompous self-aggrandisement but that is rather charming, isn't it?)
Stars in my eyes." And fingers in Vilanova's?
13 min: Ramires goes a wanderin' and then he returns to the right flank to help out Azpilicueta to stop Voser. Torres then wins a free-kick for a trip and the ball is knocked thirty yards out to the left to Hazard who floats a deep cross into the box which Sommer plucks out of the air.
11 min: The crowd, or sections of it, are singing the Jose Mourinho song, to La Donna E Mobile. And then they segue into the Blue Flag. Sixteenth minute still to come.
9 min: Frankie Lampard Jr has just hit the post, Ramires clipping it to Torres in the D and the centre-forward turning it around the corner about 10 yards out to the right of the box and Lampard steers it quite softly towards the far post and clips the outside of the woodwork.
7 min: "Evening Rob," writes Simon McMahon. "Once upon a time Ben Elton was comedy's Special One. Now he's writing lame jokes for a show no one watches set in a health and safety office. What would be the Mourinho equivalent? Ending up as Scotland manager?" Oh, Simon. Did you have to do that?
5 min: Better from Chelsea though it would have been better still if Ramires hadn't absolutely pinged a pass at Victor Moses instead of stroking it as first Hazard and then Lampard opened up space in the box. Moses managed to control it by knocking it wide of the left post where he's upended outside the box. Lampard takes the free-kick, horizontal with the six-yard line, but it's a bit anaemic and easily headed clear.
3 min: Now Streller knocks it over the top but this time Azpilicueta reads it and firmly heads it back to the keeper. Chelsea are letting Basel have it in their own half and ceding the initiative, inviting them on to then. Oddly passive start.
1min: We're off. Chelsea club ties are a bit Strokesish, no? And they start very soporifically, Azpilicueta letting Streller loose on the left side of the box and when David Luiz can't backpedal to head it Streller lashes a volley wide of Cech's right post.
I wish I was a betting man … and then I wouldn't get so enraged by these betting adverts. I'm all BANTZed out. Some measured analysis arrives from Andrew Benton: ""Him" suffers from a truly uncontrollable ego (if that's not a contradiction in terms) - which is fine when things go well, but utter rubbish when they don't.
"Rafa is more down to earth (a bit). He's doing his job this half-season. The way he's done it, especially managing the fans opinions, has been worthy of respect, and I hope Chelsea can go further as a result."
And Daniel Stauss is not a fan: "He has such a disgusting brand of megalomania that I just can't stand Him. I'd be happy for Him sink into obscurity, maybe coaching a national team where we only have to hear from Him every two years or so."
He loves himself, true. But he is good.
Corroboration that I'm not typing into a void. And it's about Him. Tom Shaw says: "I'm a West Ham fan and have no affinity with Chelsea, but I'd love to see them win this competition for Benitez. He's had a raw deal from the fans, many of whom have behaved like spoilt children towards him. He's done a decent job with what he's got and they may well regret his going if The Special One comes back and turns out to be not all that special any more." They have every right not to like him but their real beef should be with Abramovich for hiring him. I think it's chicken-hearted to target the man appointed rather than the one doing the appointing. Don't blame the workers, blame the owners. My name's Ben Elton, thank you good night.
Elsewhere they're chatting about the imminent return of Him. They think it's a done deal and He will return. I'm not sure myself. Why would Abramovich tread on his own throat and keep his voice out of team affairs? I can't see that he will and if the owner won't change why would He want to come back.
Who's the best Swiss player to have played in the Premier League? Stéphane Henchoz? Errr … Marc Hottiger? Not Ramon, surely?
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Bertrand; David Luiz, Lampard; Ramires, Hazard, Moses; Torres.
Substitutes: Turnbull, Ferreira, Terry, Ake, Oscar, Benayoun, Mata.
Basel (4-2-3-1): Sommer; Steinhofer, Schär, Sauro, Voser; Elneny, F Frei; Salah, Serey Die, Stocker; Streller.
Substitutues: Vailati, Diaz, Ajeti, Park Joo-ho, D Degen, Cabral, Zoua.
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden).
How I wish you could scroll over that vespertine greeting and have Kenneth Williams's Snide character from Hancock's Half Hour intoning it. Wouldn't that be something? It's beat your jet packs into a hatted cock. Any way. Chelsea v Basel, semi-final second leg, with Chelsea two away goals to the good and 2-1 up. It gives them, of course, the opportunity of getting to the final and, should they win there, do something no English club has done, namely win all three European trophies – European Cup, Cup Winners' Cup and Uefa Cup to give them their proper names. Only Bayern Munich, Ajax and Juventus have done it before (in reverse order) and the only manager to have done it is Giovanni Trapattoni.
Rafael Benítez has won the Uefa Cup before, Valencia beating Marseille 2-0 on Gothenburg nine years ago. And he's won the European Cup. You knew that. But did you know that Frank Lampard is captaining Chelsea tonight, one shy of Bobby Tambling's record? OK. Have you heard a previous Chelsea captain singing an extended metaphor about the club as Neptune's realm and how it repels all challenges? Thought not.