Benfica's heady mix of South
American guile and skill was too much for FC Basel as the
visitors won 2-0 in their Champions League Group C match on
Brazilian Bruno Cesar finished off a polished move in the
20th minute and beanpole Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo, who had
been on the field for just five minutes, took advantage of a
shoddy defensive wall to fire the second 15 minutes from time.
For the Swiss champions, who drew 3-3 at Manchester United
in their previous Group C match having come within a minute of
winning, it was a return to the sad routine of home European
Basel crashed out of the Europa League after losing at home
to Fulham two seasons ago and suffered home defeats to Bayern
Munich and AS Roma in the Champions League last term as they
went out in the group stage.
"The first 45 minutes were very good, we commanded the
game," said Benfica coach Jorge Jesus, whose team top the group
with seven points.
"We had more possession and were strong in defence," he
added after being ordered off the bench by the referee in the
closing minutes for dissent.
The Swiss were playing under interim coach Heiko Vogel after
Thorsten Fink, who guided them to two successive domestic
titles, quit last week to join Hamburg.
"That's not why we lost, Vogel prepared us very well. We are
convinced he is the right man for the job," said striker Marco
Benfica started with eight South Americans - four
Brazilians, three Argentines and a Uruguayan - and no
Portuguese in their line-up.
Their influence was reflected in their slick passing and
flair with Nicolas Gaitan and Pablo Aimar, two Argentines
overlooked by their struggling national side, pulling the
strings in midfield. Basel were workmanlike in comparison.
Left-footed Gaitan, 23, was especially threatening and set
up the first goal as he ran at the Basel defence, exchanged
passes with Aimar, then sent an inviting pass across the penalty
Quick-thinking Rodrigo dummied to leave his fellow Brazilian
Bruno Cesar with a free chance and he side-footed home.
"They're technically strong and it was a very well-made
goal," said Streller.
Benfica did not have it all their own way and needed good
saves from Brazilian goalkeeper Artur to deny Streller and
Xherdan Shaqiri before half-time.
The twice European champions continued to control possession
after half-time and Aimar should have done better when he was
found unmarked by Luisao's long ball upfield, but he shot weakly
at Yann Sommer.
Emerson was also denied by Sommer while Artur made another
fine save at the other end to deny Streller from close range.
Cardozo, surprisingly left on the bench, came on in the 70th
minute and needed only five minutes to secure the three points.
Benfica won a free-kick 25 metres out and Cardozo's effort found
a huge gap in the two-man defensive wall and flew into the net.
The last few minutes were uncomfortable for the visitors who
had Emerson sent off for a second yellow card and coach Jesus
dismissed from the touchline.
"That's a risk I run from the way I live the game," said
"I gesticulate a lot on the touchline, there was a very bad
foul in front of me, I was upset - but I didn't say anything to
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