BASEL - AS Roma turned the tables on FC
Basel as they rode their luck in a scrappy, bad-tempered yet
enthralling game to win 3-2 away on Wednesday and revive their
Champions League campaign.
The match, with Roger Federer among the crowd, was almost a
complete reversal of their previous Group E meeting two weeks
ago, when Roma dominated but the Swiss walked out 3-1 winners.
This time, Basel did most of the attacking but faced an
uphill struggle after Jeremy Menez and Francesco Totti, from a
penalty, put the Italians 2-0 ahead after less than half an
Alexander Frei headed one goal back for the Swiss in the
69th minute, substitute Leandro Greco restored Roma's two-goal
advantage and Xherdan Shaqiri set up a rousing finish by
replying for Basel with seven minutes left.
Roma's Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Sergio was one of their
top players as they fought a rearguard action for much of the
The second half was interrupted five times by Roma players
collapsing injured, each time when Basel were in possession,
infuriating the home crowd and leading to several angry
exchanges on the field.
The win took Roma's tally in Group E to six points, putting
them second behind leaders Bayern Munich. Basel have three and
are last, behind CFR Cluj on goal difference.
"Our destiny is in our hands," said relieved Roma coach
Claudio Ranieri, under fire for his team's indifferent form in
Serie A. "We were trapped in our own half for much of the second
half and our determination has played an important role."
Basel, inspired by lively youngsters Samuel Inkoom and
Shaqiri, dominated the opening 15 minutes with only Julio
Sergio's point-blank save from Benjamin Huggel keeping Roma on
The game changed completely in the 16th minute when Roma
scored out of the blue. A slick move ended with Mirko Vucinic
going down and, while he claimed a penalty, the ball ran kindly
to Menez for the Frenchman to slot home clinically from the edge
of the area.
Ten minutes later, John Arne Riise was adjudged to have been
fouled in what appeared to be a harsh decision on the hosts, and
Totti converted the penalty.
That briefly subdued Basel but they came out strongly after
halftime and Frei headed one back in the 69th minute, prompting
a torrid spell for the visitors in which Marco Streller hit the
Nevertheless, Roma went up the other end and scored again
with a near replica of the first goal.
This time, Marco Borriello went down claiming a penalty but
the ball ran loose for Greco, who had only just gone on, to
place his shot into the net.
Shaqiri pulled one back with seven minutes left but Basel
could not find a way through and their frustration boiled over
when Valentin Stocker was sent off for a second bookable offence
in stoppage time.
Coach Thorsten Fink was left to reflect on another rousing
home performance which ended in defeat, following their 2-1 home
loss to Bayern Munich.
"I thought we played better than against Bayern but it's a
similar feeling," he told the news conference. "We're satisfied
with the performance but depressed at the defeat."
It was also a frustrating evening for Basel fan Federer, who
had polished off his tennis match against Janko Tipsarevic in
one hour at the Swiss Indoor tournament across the road and
rushed over to the watch the game.
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