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Subdued Salah starts as Basel held by Steaua
Mohamed Salah started and played 84 minutes tonight as FC Basel equalised in injury time to earn a vital point against Steaua Bucharest. Mohamed El-Nenny was named in the squad but remained as an unused sub.
The game started quite frantically, with both teams looking to get a foot hold in a vital fixture, which could decide the Europa League place pending further results. The Romanians, who haven’t won a champions league fixture since 2006, started off as expected, applying as much pressure as possible to shake Basel off the ball. The first chance of the match fell to Basel in the 12th minute, with a free kick right on the edge of the area taken by Delgado, who just missed the top left corner of the net. There was controversy a few minutes later as Steaua had a strong penalty claim dismissed by the Portuguese referee. However, two minutes later, the Romanians took the lead after a brilliant aerial ball was latched on to by on loan striker Federico Piovaccari after some slack defending. One on one with Sommer, Piovaccari feinted well to commit Sommer and blasted the ball the opposite way into the top left corner of the net.
Mohamed Salah, who was quiet throughout the first half, had a chance to get an assist in the 27th minute after receiving a through ball from Streller and bursting past the Steaua defenders, however was not able to get enough power on the cut back, which was smothered by the keeper. Salahs best chance came in the 42nd minute after controlling a chested ball down from Streller and releasing a shot, but it was straight at the keeper. Steaua nearly made it 0-2 in the last minute of the half, with Sommer pulling off two lightning quick reaction saves to keep the hosts in the match. 0-1 at half time, and Basel had it all to do in the second.
The second half started off as expected, with Basel on the front foot not only for the opening stages, but for the whole of the half. Basels first chance of the half came after some slick footwork from Salah drew a foul. The resulting free kick was hit into the wall though, with the Steaua keeper ending up with the ball. Almost instantaneously Steaua were on the attack, with a dangerous ball into the box cleared by Die for the hosts. Basel at this point were dominating possession, with almost 60% of the ball, but lacked the creativity in the final third to convert the chances.
Amongst chances which were all wasted, Basel almost equalised in the 61st minute when an Ivanov header just missed the inside of the far post from a Stocker corner. Salah, subdued for most of the night by the Steaua defence, was brought off in the 84th minute, right in the middle of a relentless FC Basel pressure. The pressure finally paid off for the hosts in the second minute of injury time, with a lapse in concentration by the Steaua defence allowing Stocker to deliver a peach of a ball into the box, which Sio hooked on to and cushioned the ball into the bottom corner of the net. 1-1 it ended, with the hosts dishing out what had been served to them in Bucharest a fortnight earlier.
The draw now leaves Basel with five points, still in 3rd place in Group E, one point off of second placed Schalke, who were beaten 3-0 by group leaders Chelsea in tonights other group match. Basels next fixture comes in a fortnight, at home to Chelsea, who the Swiss champions beat in the first match of the group.
Video to follow..