Valencia CF destroyed FC Basel with a four goals in 17 first-half minutes on their way to a 6-2 victory in Group B of the UEFA Champions League.
Basel deployed the same starting lineup that held Liverpool FC 1-1 at Anfield last week, while Valencia made just one change, Fábio Aurélio returning from injury to replace Amedeo Carboni at left-back.
Carew the inspiration
But it was the continued selection of John Carew to partner Pablo Aimar in the Valencia attack that proved significant, as the tall Norwegian scored the first two goals, and had a hand in all four others, as his side moved five points clear in the group with just three games gone.
The home side seemed to prosper in the heavy rain, despite the difficulty of playing their short-passing game in slippery conditions. And after a quiet first ten minutes, Valencia were ahead when Carew received the ball from Aimar in the area, and made no mistake in sliding the ball past Pascal Zuberbühler.
Second for Valencia
Three minutes later, Carew had another, having already had a penalty appeal turned down and shot wide since his first. A fine Valencia move saw the ball played to Vicente Rodríguez on the left, and his cross was perfectly placed for Carew to head in.
Fábio Aurélio shoots in
Despite seeming comfortable prior to the first goal, Basel now appeared totally shell-shocked by the constant pressure being piled on them by their hosts, and by the 17-minute mark the lead was 3-0. Carew was the provider this time, as he received the ball on the edge of the area, and sent through a well-angled pass to the on-rushing Fábio Aurélio, whose left-footed shot gave Zuberbühler no chance.
The hosts were hungry for more, and their fourth came on 28 minutes, after Carew produced some superb skills in a mazy dribble that won a corner. The ensuing short-corner move resulted in a Vicente Rodríguez cross from the left to Rubén Baraja, who headed in powerfully.
Rossi pulls one back
Seconds later, Carew headed on to the post, but the rest of the half saw Basel gain a little breathing space. And just 16 seconds into the second period the visitors pulled one back, as Hakan Yakin's shot after a long run was saved by Santiago Cañizares, but tapped into the net by Julio Hernán Rossi.
Then, after an exciting spell of play, Valencia scored a fifth on 58 minutes, Carew's shot from 20 metres only blocked by Zuberbühler, with Aimar on hand to place in the rebound.
Mista gets sixth
On the hour it was six, as Aimar found Carew in the box. The rampant forward beat two defenders and laid the ball back to Mista, who lashed in his shot for his second goal in two Champions League games - both as a substitute.
There was still time for chances at both ends, and Hakan Yakin pulled another goal back in added time, lobbing Cañizares from distance. But Basel, who are now level on points with Liverpool, will mainly be grateful not to have conceded a Champions League record-equalling seven goals, which seemed a certainty with 30 minutes left.
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