Having suffered heartache on the final day of the season for the past two years, FC Basel 1893 finally got their hands on the Swiss Super League trophy on Saturday, winning 2-0 against the only side that could have denied them, BSC Young Boys.
In 2007, Basel had to better FC Zürich's result in the final round of fixtures but could not manage that feat while the year before it was even worse, as Zürich pipped them to the title thanks to an added-time winner at Basel's St. Jakob-Park. Parallels to 2006 were therefore inevitably drawn in the build-up to this year's decider with second-placed Young Boys travelling to Basel on the last matchday needing a win to jump above their rivals and snatch the championship. "If we win this time, the big trauma of 13 May 2006 is finally history," said Basel captain Ivan Ergić before the match.
In the end, Basel vanquished their final-day jinx with a comfortable 2-0 win on Saturday thanks to first-half goals by Valentin Stocker and Marco Streller. "I am full of joy," Ergić said after the full-time whistle. "But more than anything else, I am full of relief." His coach, Christian Gross added: "It was a fantastic day for FC Basel and the whole city."
Gross was especially glad that Switzerland striker Streller hit form at precisely the right time, scoring three goals in the last four matches. "He is on his way to playing a great European Championship," Gross said, with UEFA EURO 2008™ looming for co-hosts Switzerland.
'The next step'
The away team, meanwhile, were left to reflect on an opportunity lost. "The first half was really, really bad," said Young Boys forward Thomas Häberli, while Swiss international midfielder Hakan Yakin felt "that there was not really the full will to win tonight". For the victors, though, there is the promise of new goals. "The group stage of the Champions League has to be our target now," said president Gisela Oeri after the match, a sentiment shared by Gross who added: "We want to make the next step now."
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