Lame Liverpool conquered by Basel
Liverpool became the latest English club to fall victim to FC Basel as the Swiss side triumphed 1-0 in their Champions League Group B clash at the St Jakob-Park on Thursday (Oct 2).
In the last three years, Basel have beaten Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in European competition and won home and away against Chelsea, and on this occasion a solitary, scrappy goal in the 52nd minute from captain Marco Streller inflicted a damaging defeat on Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Bouncing back from a 5-1 thumping at the hands of Real Madrid two weeks ago, the tenacious Basel team were worthy winners, even if they were left hanging on at times as they tired in the closing stages.
Liverpool, having already struggled to beat Bulgarian rookies Ludogorets Razgrad 2-1 at Anfield, must now be dreading a double-header with the defending European champions in which they will put their prospects of reaching the last 16 on the line.
Liverpool's head coach Brendan Rodgers (L) shaking hands with Basel's head coach Paulo Sousa. Photo: AFP
"The goal we conceded was far too soft and it is not the first one,” said a frustrated Rodgers.
In contrast, Basel coach Paulo Sousa hailed another famous night in his club’s recent European history.
“It was a perfect evening.”
Paulo Sousa, Basel head coach
The Reds, through the pace of Raheem Sterling and Lazar Markovic in particular, set themselves up to try and hit their hosts on the counter-attack, and Sterling had an effort disallowed for offside in the third minute.
However, a lively Basel had taken only 21 seconds to force the game’s first corner and were not unsettled by the loss of their Swedish left-back Behrang Safari to injury with only nine minutes on the clock, even if Sousa responded by switching to a three-man defence as he sent on the Paraguayan winger Derlis Gonzalez.
Streller had a shot deflected wide before Mohamed Elneny forced a save out of Simon Mignolet with a curling strike from the edge of the area.
Mario Balotelli wasted a couple of opportunities and they did not seriously test Tomas Vaclik in the Basel goal, the closest he came was from a vicious free-kick 30m after the break which was beaten away.
Balotelli reacts. Photo AFP
Rodgers must have had strong words for his players at the interval but they did not have the desired effect.
For it was Basel who opened the scoring from a corner that as Liverpool’s well-documented defensive problems were laid bare once again.
When Taulant Xhaka’s ball in from the right was deflected goalwards, Mignolet did well to save, but Streller was quickest to react to the loose ball, scrambling it over the line.
Basel's forward Marco Streller (L) celebrates with his coach Paulo Sousa (C) after scoring. Photo: AFP
Sterling’s poor touch saw him squander another chance while Balotelli had a goal ruled out for offside as Liverpool limped to a worrying defeat and extended their sluggish start to the season. - AFP.
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