Basel dreams stay alive
Almerares' goal gives Swiss a chance of reaching the last 16
Last Updated: 23/11/10 11:04pm
Almerares: Basel's hero battles against the Cluj defence
Basel's dreams of reaching the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time remain a possible reality after a 1-0 victory over CFR Cluj at St Jakob Park.
The Swiss club reached the second group stage in 2002/03, at the expense of Liverpool, but they have never been involved in the two-legged latter rounds of Europe's premier club competition.
Federico Almerares' 15th minute goal therefore carried great significance and means that Thorsten Fink's men will travel to already-qualified Bayern Munich in their last match of Group E with a faint chance of catching second-placed Roma.
Cluj cannot reach the knockout rounds and the Romanians did not seem to be committed on Tuesday night, with Felice Piccolo's late, petulant red card epitomising their performance.
In the first minute, Basel midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri's long-range left-foot shot was off target.
Cluj's Juan Emanuel Culio should have done better after three minutes as he opted to chest down rather than head a cross but the ball dropped to goalkeeper Franco Costanzo.
Fifteen minutes in, and a 60 seconds after being booked, Almerares got on the end of a low shot from Samuel Inkoom to open the scoring.
Inkoom had shaped to shoot from distance, but scuffed his effort across goal and Almerares got behind his marker to shoot under Nuno Claro.
Within two minutes, Basel could have been further ahead after Almerares worked space inside the area and passed to Alexander Frei, but his shot was blocked by Ionut Rada and Felice Piccolo cleared off the line.
Rafael Bastos had Cluj's first real effort after nearly 35 minutes, but following a strong run from his own half he shot well over from distance.
Basel were denied just before the hour when a shot from Fwayo Tembo was deflected onto the bar by goalkeeper Nuno Claro's foot.
Frei thought he had doubled the lead with 16 minutes to go, but he was flagged offside on the edge of the six-yard area as he steered a shot from Tembo past Nuno Claro.
Cluj coach Sorin Cartu took out his frustration on the away side's dugout as he put his foot through the Perspex side.And Cluj played the last two minutes with 10 men after Piccolo was show a red card when he pushed over Almerares.
|Basel||Team Statistics||CFR Cluj|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||0|
|10||Shots off Target||3|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 23rd Nov - Group F
Spartak Mos0 - 3Marseille
Chelsea2 - 1Zilina
Tue 23rd Nov - Group E
Roma3 - 2Bay Munich
Basel1 - 0Cluj
Tue 23rd Nov - Group G
Ajax0 - 4R Madrid
Auxerre0 - 2AC Milan
Tue 23rd Nov - Group H
Braga2 - 0Arsenal
Partizan0 - 3Shak Donetsk
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H