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Saturday, July 21, 2012

FC Basel's Home Campaign off to a Rocky Start

Sommer makes a dramatic save against Luzern
FC Basel were able to savor a point against FC Luzern thanks to a late goal from club captain and hero Marco Streller and lots of acrobatic saves from young goalkeeper Yann Sommer. Basel could have taken home all three points at several stages in the game, claiming to have a penalty appeal on more than one occasion and watching Alex Frei's perfectly placed shot bounce off the inside of the post in the first minute of stoppage time.

Basel looked shaky in the first half of the match. Their defenders appeared to have trouble communicating, often sending two men to the ball and leaving a Luzern player prowling inside the box. Sommer was forced to make a dramatic double save in the eighth minute when one of the unmarked Luzern attackers beat all of the Basel defenders to the ball and got off two consecutive shots on goal.
Luzern dominated the Swiss Champions on their own pitch, getting off many more attacking opportunities in the first half than Basel did. It only took 17 minutes for a Luzern striker to find the back of the net. Lezcano had been threatening the Basel goal early on, sneaking past the back line and forcing saves from Sommer or blasting the ball wide. He got his goal with a textbook offensive header to give Luzern the 1-0 lead.
Much to the dismay of the home fans, the remainder of the match was riddled with questionable calls from the center referee, many of them in favor of the visiting side. The first half ended with a frustrated home side walking to the locker room in need of a goal.
The second half was much more open, Heiko Vogel's men rallied and possession was more even than it was in the first 45. Basel started to create more chances in the final third with Alex Frei and Marco Streller seeing much more of the ball and both the outside defenders and the wingers aiding in successful attacks. Basel equalized with an Alex Frei goal in the 61st minute. A great ball played back from Markus Steinhofer found the feet of Frei who kept his composure enough to take the ball past the Luzern defenders and tap it cooly into the far post.
It took Luzern's leading front man Lezcano only five minutes to take the lead again, getting on the end of a ball from Sarr and putting it past Sommer. After their second goal, Luzern took their foot off the gas pedal and began to sit back and defend. Basel took full advantage, bombarding the visiting side's defense and penetrating from the middle and the wings much more frequently than they did in the first half. Just when it looked like Basel were going to drop precious points in their home opener, Marco Streller found the back of the net, using his 6'5" frame to get on the end of a lofty cross from the new center midfielder Marcelo Diaz. Basel nearly had the full three points, but it wasn't meant to be. Alex Frei's well-placed shot bounced off the inside of the post and out after he had beat Luzern's goalkeeper Zibung inside the six yard box.
Basel will hope to be back on track when they face FC Flora Tallinn in UEFA Champions League qualification at St. Jakob Park on Tuesday.

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