Inside the Brain of a Teenage Soccer Genius

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Swiss Champions are the Victors After a Controversial Match in Thun

Stocker, Shaqiri and Streller celebrate Stocker's goal
FC Basel took on FC Thun on a lovely evening in the lakeside city of Thun. The match turned out to be controversial after Thun fans, players and coaches felt that Basel midfielder Valentin Stocker should have been red carded for his foul on midfielder Jeremy Maniere and that the home side should have had a penalty kick after Benjamin Huggel had a questionable handball inside the Basel penalty box. The linesman signaled for a penalty, but his decision was overridden by the referee and Basel narrowly escaped an equalizer. 

The visitors found themselves up 1-0 after just six minutes when Marco Streller found the back of the net, but the lead wouldn’t last long. Center midfielder Adilson Cabral fouled Volina from behind as he darted into the box towards the Basel goal. The referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot and also carded Cabral for his clumsy challenge. Stipe Matic beat Yann Sommer and the home side were level. Basel made several more attempts on goal as the midfield fed ball after ball through to the front men Alex Frei and Marco Streller. Thun also had their fair share of chances, catching Basel on the counter attack on a few occasions before the penalty scoring hero, Matic, saw straight red for his challenge on Marco Streller. Matic was the last man back defending the towering Basel striker and captain and had a good hold on him as he tried to run on to a through ball. The big Swiss striker went down a little easy, but the ref saw the foul and carded Matic. Shaqiri sent the free kick from the foul over the top of the bar, but Basel managed to work their way forward in search of a goal to put them in the lead. Amazingly, Xherdan Shaqiri’s effort, which was aimed at the right post, bounced off of the inside of the post, over the Thun keeper Da Costa’s back and into his arms. The excitement didn’t stop there. Cabral brought down Volina in a ridiculous late tackle that was completely unnecessary but proved to be costly. The midfielder saw his second yellow card at just twenty-eight minutes and was sent off. By the thirty minute mark, each squad was down to ten men and had a goal apiece. It looked like the half was going to end 1-1, but Valentin Stocker got his name on the scores sheet yet again for Basel with a cheeky chip over the keeper after he slid out to save Alex Frei’s initial shot. Basel were up 2-1 by the end of the first half.
After the restart, it was all Basel for the opening ten minutes of the half. Da Costa made some good saves and the Thun midfield and defense were able to break up most of the plays before they reached the box, but the Swiss Champions were not going to back down. In the 59th minute, Alex Frei scored after he was left unmarked in the box, having no trouble putting the ball past Da Costa. Xherdan Shaqiri got the assist and Basel secured their lead. The visitors were in control for a good ten minutes before Thun’s first substitute, Jeremy Maniere, came on to mix things up. The defensive midfielder found himself aiding the attack and the home side began to push towards goal. In the seventy-ninth minute, Thun found the back of the net. With a bit of luck for Dennis Hediger, his shot bounced off of the inside of the post and off of the keeper much like Shaqiri’s in the first half except this time, the ball bounced off of the head of Yann Sommer and into the back of the net. It was game on for Thun. Basel found themselves turning up their defense and center backs David Abraham and Aleksandar Dragovic were forced to make some key tackles to keep the ball away from the front of their goal. Alex Frei saw yellow as he attempted to break up the Thun play with a late tackle in the 82nd minute. Before he saw red, Basel coach Heiko Vogel made his second substitution of the match, bringing off the veteran Frei and replacing him with the young Jacques Zoua. In the eight-eighth minute, the hand ball episode broke out. From the linesman’s angle, and the view of the Thun fans, it looked as though Benjamin Huggel used his hand to settle a deflected shot inside his own box, but the center referee signaled for play to continue. The ball was cleared out of the box by the Basel defense and found the feet of Jeremy Maniere, who attempted to take it up the field but was brutally fouled by Valentin Stocker, who came in with his studs showing at shin guard level. The Thun bench cleared and immediately crowded the fourth official. Stocker was in the mix but was pulled aside by Marco Streller. The Basel captain received a yellow card for defending his player.
The match finished 2-3 in favor of the guests, but the agitated Thun players and coaches immediately crowded around the referee as soon as the final whistle blew. Basel players and coaches quickly became involved but the TV coverage cut out before the conflict was resolved. Either way, Basel left with the three points and are now eleven points clear at the top of the Super League table. Thun are in fourth place and four points behind Young Boys Berne and the EUROPA League spot in the table. 

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