Frei goals see Basel home
Alexander Frei notched a late penalty and Fabian Frei scored as Basel beat Otelul Galati in their Group C opener.
Last Updated: 14/09/11 11:06pm
Alexander Frei notched a late penalty as Swiss champions Basel beat UEFA Champions League newcomers Otelul Galati in their Group C opener.
The Swiss outfit opened the scoring when Fabian Frei headed home Marco Streller's cross six minutes before the interval.
The visitors deservedly equalised via Marius Pena on 58 minutes after Liviu Antal's effort from the edge of the box could only be parried by Yann Sommer.
But Basel captain Streller was fouled by Adrian Salageanu in the 84th minute and Alexander Frei slotted home from the penalty spot after Salageanu had been sent off.
The home side also finished with ten men when Benjamin Huggel received his marching orders with two minutes remaining for a second bookable offence following a high challenge.
The visitors settled the quicker and Gabriel Giurgiu and Pena tested Sommer inside the opening six minutes, although the Basel goalkeeper comfortably dealt with both efforts.
Romania midfielder Giurgiu then had a volley from the left side of the area blocked by David Abraham as Otelul continued to get into promising positions.
Basel, though, were always going to pose a threat with Alexander Frei, Switzerland's all-time top scorer, leading the line and his long-range effort brought a brilliant parried save out of Otelul keeper Branko Grahovac in the 27th minute.
But it was his namesake Fabian Frei who put the hosts in front in the 39th minute, heading Streller's right-wing cross into the bottom corner.
The visitors did anything but crumble, though, and John Ibeh brought a smart stop out of Sommer with a drilled effort from 20 yards.
And they drew level in the 58th minute when Antal's fierce shot was parried by Sommer and Pena was on hand to clip the rebound over the keeper and into the net.
Basel, knowing they realistically needed to take maximum points at home against on paper the weakest team in the group if they were to stand a chance of progressing, pushed forward in search of a winner, but struggled to break down Otelul.
Granit Xhaka fired over the bar from inside the area before the decisive moment arrived in the 84th minute.
Salageanu fouled Streller in the box and, after the Romanian was sent off, Alexander Frei fired the penalty into the bottom left corner, Grahovac guessing right but unable to keep it out.
The numbers were evened up when Huggel received a second yellow two minutes from time, but Basel had little trouble seeing out the game and collecting a precious three points to head the early Group C table after rivals Benfica and Manchester United could only draw in Portugal.
|Basel||Team Statistics||Otelul Galati|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||5|
|2||Shots off Target||6|