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VIDEO: FC Basel suffer semi-final defeat to European Champions Chelsea
Both of Basel’s 20-year-old Pharaohs Mohamed Salah and El-Nenny started in this first leg of the semi-final at St. Jakob-Park with Salah starting in his usual position on the right wing while El-Nenny took hold in central midfield.
Chelsea started the game strong dominating possession and created a few chances with Hazard providing the early spark. It only took 15 minutes for the Blues to break the deadlock after a Frank Lampard corner was met by Branislav Ivanovic and deflected in by Nigeria international Victor Moses.
Chelsea continued to control the game while giving Basel very few chances. Mohamed Salah, who was being marked by England international Ashley Cole, rarely got a touch of the ball in the first 45 minutes, whilst E-Nenny did all he could to prevent attacks from the likes of Ramires and Eden Hazard, with the latter having two glorious chances just before half-time.
In the second-half, Basel started off brightly and managed to get hold of the ball more often. After two minutes, Valentin Stocker dribbled through the Chelsea defence before beating goalkeeper Petr Cech only to be denied by the post. Chelsea responded strongly with Fernando Torres also hitting the woodwork minutes later.
In the 64th minute Mohamed El-Nenny was substituted by striker Jacques Zoua, who provided a much needed attacking threat. El-Nenny played very well against Chelsea, a far cry from playing with Arab Contractors. The defensive midfielder had a couple of chances on goal before being substituted. The first of which came in the 3rd minute when his cross went just over the bar, whilst his second effort went high into the crowds.
Mohamed Salah was replaced by David Degan in the 77th minute, seconds after the Egypt international’s poor first touch denied Basel the chance to equalize. Salah had a relatively quiet performance, which showed Chelsea clearly did their research as they knew how to deal with his threat by double-teaming him, denying the sparky winger any chance to play freely with the ball.
In the 86th minute FC Basel won a penalty after a dubious decision regarding Valentin Stocker, who was allegedly fouled by Cesar Azpilicueta. Fabian Schar scored from the spot to equalise for Basel. The goal seemed to ignite the flame in Chelsea as they increased their tempo and put excessive pressure on the Swiss champions in the remaining minutes. In the last minute of added time, Ramires was fouled by Valentin Stocker just outside the Basel box. David Luiz stepped up and produced his trademark power-driving free-kick which Yann Sommer got a touch of but wasn’t enough as the ball found the back of the net. The game ended 2-1 with David Luiz’s kick the last of the game.
In the other semi-final Fenerbahce, who have never reached a European competition final, won 1-0 at home to Benfica through defender Egemen Korkmaz’s 72nd-minute header.
Ashley Cole will miss next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge after being given a yellow card for time-wasting today. Ryan Bertrand is set to fill in Cole’s position to mark Salah.
Ahmad Yousef: Follow @EgyptianPlayers