Chelsea boss happy hard work pays off

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Rafa Benitez has praised his players after Chelsea booked their place in the Europa League final – with Benfica laying in wait after their victory against Fenerbahce.

The Blues beat Basel 3-1 at Stamford Bridge courtesy of goals from Fernando Torres, Victor Moses and David Luiz.

Benitez told the official club website: “I am very pleased to be in the final. We have been working so hard this year to be in finals or semi-finals, and now we are in another final the players deserve to be there.

“I am really pleased for the players and for everyone here. For the club it is an opportunity and it will be tough because Benfica are a very dangerous team,” he concluded.

Chelsea started the match slowly and trailed at half-time after Mohamed Salah excellently finished an incisive move in injury-time. But three goals in nine second-half minutes sealed the tie for the west London side, who face the Portuguese league-leaders in the final in Amsterdam later this month.

Benitez singled out David Luiz for particular praise after the Brazilian’s superb goal and all-round performance, insisting that he can only get better for the Blues.

“I am really pleased with him [Luiz] because since I came I was talking with him and giving him confidence and he is giving me a lot of things back,” said the Spaniard.

“He has a great character and he is a player that is growing, and with the quality that he has he can be even better.”

Benitez's side narrowly missed out on domestic cup success this campaign, but have the opportunity to rectify that in the Netherlands on 15 May. There focus will shift back to the Premier League for now though, with a trip to Manchester United up next.

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