FC Basel 1893 confirmed their UEFA Champions League pedigree with a 2-1 home victory against Werder Bremen in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie.
Goals in either half from David Degen and substitute Julio Rossi ensured Christian Gross's side the advantage before the return leg at the Weserstadion on 24 August. However, the German team will still have every confidence of overturning the deficit thanks to Miroslav Klose's strike on 72 minutes.
Bremen had entered this encounter full of optimism with general manager Klaus Allofs claiming "we have to win the match to live up to our own expectations". Nevertheless, Basel, who reached the second group stage of this competition in 2002/03, were in defiant mood and proved largely able to contain a Bremen side that had beaten DSC Arminia Bielefeld 5-2 in their opening Bundesliga fixture last Saturday.
Thomas Schaaf's men, who made the Champions League's last 16 in the 2004/05 campaign, were behind on 27 minutes after some lax defending. Goalkeeper Andreas Reinke was stranded after Scott Chipperfield's shot had been blocked and Degen made no mistake when well placed.
The wayward defending continued into the second half, allowing Argentinian striker Rossi to double the home team's advantage on 52 minutes by drilling through Reinke's legs to the obvious delight of a sell-out 29,000 crowd at St. Jakob Park. Yet the home fans were given pause for thought when Germany forward Klose pulled one back in the closing stages.
Swiss pride Despite that setback, Basel will feel they have the upper hand regarding progress to the competition proper. And with FC Thun also on top in their tie against Malmö FF, Switzerland is contemplating the unusual prospect of two group stage entrants. Klose and strike partner Ivan Klasnic, frustrated tonight, will have other ideas, though.
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