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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Molde FK 0-1 FC Basel

Zoua strikes again for Basel
The Swiss visitors were lucky to claim the win on their trip to Norway for the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League. Despite being a man up for the majority of the game, Basel looked unconvincing in terms of their finishing but were strong in possession. They will have the 1-0 aggregate lead and a precious away goal when the two sides clash in Basel next week.

Yann Sommer was forced to make some good saves for the visiting side in the first forty five while Petterson had a relatively quiet first half in the other goal, only being threatened occasionally by Stocker and Streller. Basel were content to possess and play their usual game, which has been compared to the passing flair and effectiveness of the Brazilian national team. They used the speed of defenders Markus Steinhofer and Joo Ho Park on the wings to help with the attack but their crosses went either to the opposition or bounced off of the heads of a Basel player, hardly challenging the goalkeeper for the Norway side. Former Manchester United youth player Magnus Eikrem showed well in the midfield for Molde both offensively and defensively, distributing well and helping his side create a few of the breakaways that challenged Sommer. At halftime, the score was 0-0 and Molde were down a man after Angan was sent off for striking Basel center back Aleksandar Dragovic in the face when neither player was anywhere near the ball.
The second half was more Basel's game. Molde were tiring after they went down a man in the 27th minute and their chances on goal came from counter attacks. They struggled to possess and Basel looked to be the stronger side. The home side's defense put on an impressive display of organization, marking the Basel players well on their attacks and set pieces and often denying them of a chance on goal thanks to their communication and movement off of the ball. Knowing that his side were in need of a helpful away goal, Basel coach Heiko Vogel pulled off David Degan in the 61st minute and put on his super sub Jacques Zoua. The substitution would pay off for Basel when Zoua got on the end of a fumbled save by Petterson eighteen minutes after coming on. A shot from Valentin Stocker was saved by the goalkeeper, but his save rolled out of his hands and towards the goal. He was quick to react, but Zoua was quicker, beating the keeper to the ball and smashing it into the back of the net to give Basel the lead.
The visitors continued to pressure Molde, but they didn't have any more serious attempts on goal for the remainder of the match. Basel dominated and defended with possession, content with an away goal. At the final whistle Molde had put up a good fight with only ten men for a long duration of the match but Basel had been the dominant side. The two sides will clash again in St. Jakob Park in Basel on the eighth of August and the aggregate winner will move on to the next round of the UEFA Champions League.

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