The referee took center stage at St. Jakob-Park, where Chelsea and Basel somehow both finished with 11 men and the home side was gifted a goal on a contentious penalty, but David Luiz grabbed the spotlight in the waning minutes with a stoppage time goal. The Chelsea defender scored in the 93rd minute to earn the Blues a 2-1 win that has them sitting pretty heading home for the second leg of their Europa League semifinal.
Neither team was sharp in the early going and it took until the 12th minute before either team got much going, but when Chelsea finally had a good looking move forward, they made it count. A clever run by Frank Lampard freed him to have a go at goal and it forced a save, which earned the Blues a corner kick. Lampard took the kick and hit it hard, right into the center of the box, where Victor Moses was able to get on the end of it and head it into the corner for a 1-0 Chelsea lead.
From that point on, Chelsea grabbed the upper hand and should have added to their lead on several occasions, but Yann Sommer turned them away with a series of fine saves. Eden Hazard had a chance of his own, and it came with Sommer scrambling, but he missed the goal from close range. Along with Fernando Torres continuing his remarkable ability to hit the post, shoot right at the goalkeeper or just outright miss the frame by miles no matter how many clear looks he got at goal, Chelsea could only shake their heads and wonder how they were several goals in front.
All the whole, both teams were clattering into each other without punishment. High boots, knee-high tackles, late challenges and stomps on ankles marred the match, but the referee would just let play go on or award just a foul for what should have been a yellow, or even red card offense.
The referee's bad day came to a head in the 87th minute when he pointed to the spot, ruling that Cesar Azpilicueta took down Valentin Stocker, who was reaching for a cross. The problem is that Azpilicueta got to the ball first, cleared it easily and didn't even make much contact with Stocker. It was a shocking call by the referee that handed Basel a lifeline, which Fabian Schar took by slotting home the penalty with just minutes left to equalize.
At that point, it looked like Basel would escape with a draw. They had seen Chelsea do much of the attacking in the match and aside from hitting the post once, had trouble creating chances, but there they were, on the verge of a result.
Only Luiz insured that Chelsea would get the win they deserved in the third minute of extra time. Luiz, who was lucky to be on the pitch after an awful tackle earlier in the match, ripped a free kick from 25 yards just before the final whistle that Sommer should have saved, but it went through his arms and found the back of the net. Basel could be outraged that Luiz was still on the pitch, but the same could be said of their players and their goal came with some serious help from the referee, too. In the end, it was justice and Chelsea took a 2-1 lead back to London.