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Benitez leads Chelsea to third semifinal

updated 6:15 PM EDT, Thu April 11, 2013
Fernando Torres is congratulated by Frank Lampard after his opening goal set Chelsea on their way to a second straight European semi
Fernando Torres is congratulated by Frank Lampard after his opening goal set Chelsea on their way to a second straight European semi
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chelsea reach second straight European semi despite losing 3-2 in Russia to Rubin Kazan
  • Fenerbahce and Basel celebrate maiden berths in a major European semifinal
  • Benfica also make it through after late strike earns 4-2 aggregate win over Newcastle

(CNN) -- Chelsea reached their third semifinal under Rafa Benitez, and their 18th in the Roman Abramovich era, despite losing the second leg of their Europa League quarterfinal to Rubin Kazan 3-2.

Thanks to their 3-1 victory in the first leg though, the Blues stay on course to add the continent's second tier title to the Champions League crown they so famously won last May.

Swiftly after the match, Benitez's thoughts immediately turned to Sunday's FA Cup semifinal clash with Manchester City at Wembley.

The Spaniard, whose Stamford Bridge tenure has been fraught with tension given his difficult relationship with Chelsea fans, knows he has already taken charge of one semifinal with the Blues -- one which ended in disappointing League Cup defeat to Swansea.

"It doesn't too matter too much [about the result]," Benitez told ESPN television after the match in Moscow.

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"There were circumstances such as the pitch, so it was a professional job and I was pleased with the players' effort.

"We are pleased to get through, but a little disappointed because we could have done a little better in defense, but the main thing was to progress.

"We have to manage both games in the Europa League and FA Cup. Some of them will not play on Sunday but we can carry on in different competitions, which is good for the squad."

The success capped a triumphant return to the artificial surface of the Luzhniki Stadium, where Chelsea lost the 2008 Champions League final to Manchester United, after Rubin Kazan were forced to play away from home given concerns over the state of their stadium.

Chelsea will discover their opponents in the last four on Friday, when European body UEFA conducts the draw for both the Europa League and Champions League.

Thursday proved a mixed night for English clubs, with Newcastle United exiting at the hands of Benfica, with the Portuguese side tipped by many to win the competition, while Tottenham Hotspur were knocked out by Basel.

Playing at home and trailing 3-1 from the first leg, the Magpies made a late breakthrough through Papiss Cisse and had a shot at glory only for substitute Hatem Ben Arfa to fire over with time running out.

In stoppage time, Eduardo Salvio finished off a slick counterattack to ensure the Eagles progressed and stamped their authority on the 4-2 aggregate scoreline.

Swiss side Basel, meanwhile, held their nerve to win a penalty shootout 4-1 after the tie had ended 4-4 on aggregate, with Spurs holding the home side to a 2-2 draw.

After Jan Vertonghen was sent off late on for the visitors, Spurs seemed to believe a shootout was their best chance of victory - but Basel were flawless from 12 yards and reached their first European semifinal in the 120th year of the club's existence.

A similar fate befell Fenerbahce, who took a 2-0 lead to a deserted Olympic Stadium in Rome, where they faced a Lazio side playing behind closed doors as punishment for their supporters' poor record on racism.

The home side struggled to find a breakthrough until Senad Lulic scored on the hour mark but shortly after, Caner Erkin equalized to mark an historic chapter for a Turkish club founded in 1907.

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