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May 2, 2013

Benitez applauds Chelsea spirit

Rafa Benitez spoke of his pride for Chelsea's players and staff after the club reached the final of the Europa League with a 5-2 aggregate win against Basel.

• Brewin: Chelsea eye history

The Blues will face Benfica in Amsterdam on May 15 following a resounding 3-1 victory against the Swiss side. Benitez, who has endured a rough ride from Chelsea fans, insists the morale within the team has been important in order for them to stand a chance of winning a trophy.

"I came to do a professional job with the commitment of the players. I am really pleased for them and everyone here," he told ITV1. "I think we have had a good atmosphere in the side. The players are working hard. I was really pleased with them before and really pleased with them now."

Basel edged in front on the stroke of half-time thanks to Mohamed Salah. However, the lead was shortlived as Chelsea stormed back with second half goals from Fernando Torres, Victor Moses and David Luiz.

Benitez applauded his players' resilience in fighting back to win their 64th game of a marathon season.

"To be fair we had two clear chances first half and we failed to take them," the interim manager said. "They then score and we had to react. Credit to the players in the second half. They were on top of them and we scored three goals. We controlled the game.

"In the first half we didn't perform in the best way. At half-time we agreed about that. We showed the concentration and mentality at the start of the half. We killed off the game. We have to think of that for the future."

Luiz believes the Blues must not let another opportunity for silverware pass them by after losing the Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup and World Club Cup already this season.

"This is one more opportunity to win a title - we lost three finals this season, so now is the time to win," Luiz told ITV.

"I try every game to help the team. The second half was better and I am happy we are in the final."

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