Zoua strikes twice for Basel and Diaz nets his first goal for the Swiss side and in European football as Basel roll on to the next round
|Zoua Strikes Two for Swiss Champions|
FC Basel dominated for the entire ninety minutes with second string goalkeeper Vailati hardly having to move from his line in his first start for Basel and his first game in the UEFA Champions League. Basel manager Heiko Vogel made several changes to his side, resting his favored winger Valentin Stocker and leading goalscorer Alex Frei and bringing on some youngsters. Stjephan Vuleta saw some action on the European stage for the first time in his career and the 22 year-old center back Sauro was also given a place in the starting eleven.
Up front for Basel, Jacques Zoua and Marco Streller led the Basel attack and it took only eight minutes for Zoua to find the back of the net. A lovely, swooping cross from Markus Steinhofer found the head of Zoua, who sent the ball flying into the corner of the net past the hands of Flora Tallinn keeper Pedok. The header was spectacular and was greeted with a roaring cheer from the faithful FC Basel fans who were in high spirits at St. Jakob Park.
Flora Tallinn's front man Siim Luts would come the closest to a chance for the visitors, but he failed to get his effort on frame. Basel continued to possess and graciously spared their full attacks, waiting patiently for a good opportunity to arise before penetrating the scattered defense of Tallinn. The back four for the visitors did well to control the Basel attack and only let Basel have four on-target efforts for the duration of the match. Basel made those efforts count, however and in their second attempt on goal in the entire game, Zoua struck again. In the 30th minute, Streller sent in a long cross that dropped right in front of the goal. Flora Tallinn had a man marking Zoua, but he made a disastrous error and failed to clear the ball. It fell right to Zoua's feet and the Cameroonian striker made no mistake in volleying the ball into the back of the net with a powerful strike.
In the 35th minute, Basel's German defender Markus Steinhofer conceded a free kick just outside the box and although it was at an awkward angle, it was a delicious opportunity for the visitors to score a dignity goal (Basel already had the 4-0 aggregate lead). Rather than sending the ball into the box where several Tallinn players were trying to shake their defenders, the ball was whipped well over the crossbar and wide of the mark, not even forcing a flinch from Vailati in the goal.
At the other end, Streller and the young Vuleta connected with a neat one-two but Vuleta's shot curled just wide of the post. That was the last attempt at goal in the half. For the remainder of the first 45, Basel possessed the ball mostly in the middle of the pitch, demonstrating lots of patience and control much to the frustration of the visitors.
The second half opened much like the first Flora Tallinn had the ball, but the possession was soon lost and Basel took over. The Swiss Champions were relaxed and didn't press too hard for a goal, instead defending their lead by holding the ball. With five minutes gone in the second half, Marco Streller sent in a tantalizing ball to the far post, nearly getting it over the line himself but it fell to a Tallinn defender who failed to clear it. Zoua nearly took advantage of another defensive train wreck for the visitors, but he wasn't fast enough and the ball was cleared.
The only yellow card of the game was awarded five minutes later to Siim Luts when he clumsily stepped on Cabral's ankle in the aftermath of a tackle. Flora Tallinn were starting to tire out and conceded a costly free kick in the 61st minute. The Chilean center midfielder Marcelo Diaz struck his first goal for Basel with a curling free kick that bounced under the body of Pedok and into the far corner of the net. FC Basel had the 3-0 lead and were on their way through to the next round of qualifying. Vogel rewarded some of his men with a break, giving Andrist, Frei and youth academy product Simon Grether a run on the pitch and taking off Zoua, Streller and Diaz all by the 80th minute. FC Flora Tallinn manager Ain Tammus didn't make a huge effort to switch his team around, knowing that any goals to come would only save his side from a hefty 5-0 aggregate score.
When the final whistle sounded, the faithful Basel fans rose to their feet to cheer on their side and celebrate being one step closer to the group stage where they saw much success last season.
The third round of qualifying will be played out on the 31st of July and the first of August and the following week on the seventh and eighth of August.