Europa League: Basle hold on to progress past Zenit despite penalty scare
Last Updated: 14/03/13 7:53pm
Axel Witsel scored for Zenit St Petersburg on the night but it was not enough
Ten-man Basle booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a 2-1 aggregate win over Zenit St Petersburg despite losing on the night.
Basle goalkeeper Yann Sommer saved a late penalty from Roman Shirokov and the hosts hit a post and missed an open goal as they threw all they had at their opponents, but a tie-levelling second goal eluded them.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Zenit halved the deficit after half an hour through Axel Witsel and things looked to be going their way when Basle had Marcelo Diaz sent off for two yellow cards just before half-time.
But the Swiss champions defended superbly after the break, limiting Zenit to just a handful of clear-cut chances to progress 2-1 on aggregate.
The opening goal which arrived in the 30th minute changed the complexion of the game.
Hulk's inswinging corner from the right was flicked on at the near post by Nicolas Lombaerts and his fellow Belgian, Witsel, arrived at the back post to stoop and head low into the net.
The Russians had their tails up and the hosts received another boost on the stroke of half-time when their opponents were reduced to 10 men.
A poor first touch from Diaz allowed the ball to run away from him and, in trying to keep possession, he slid into Bruno Alves and was shown as second yellow card.
Zenit should then have levelled in the 75th minute only for Danny to miss an open goal from two yards and there was another let-off in the 83rd minute as Vladimir Bystrov tried to guide a shot into the far corner with the outside of his right foot, but the ball came back off the post with Sommer well beaten.
Their luck appeared to be out four minutes from time, though, as Park Joo-ho tried to hook the ball away at the back post and only succeeded in kicking Bystrov, a penalty the result.
But Shirokov's spot-kick was weak and straight down the middle and the diving Sommer saved it with his feet and that was the hosts' last chance as they crashed out.
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