A late equaliser from Eren Derdiyok earned FC Basel 1893 an unexpected UEFA Champions League point at FC Barcelona, although the result was nevertheless enough for the Spanish side to confirm their progress to the knockout stages.
With the home team having won each of their three Group C games – part of a run of eleven in eleven in all competitions – and Basel without a point, the outcome in Catalonia looked a foregone conclusion, especially after their 5-0 win in the reverse fixture in Switzerland a fortnight ago. Instead, the visitors produced a determined defensive effort and were only breached in the 62nd minute by a trademark goal from substitute Lionel Messi. Basel replacement Derdiyok levelled with a superb volley eight minutes from time, however, and, although Sporting Clube de Portugal's victory against FC Shakhtar Donetsk ensured Barça booked their place in the last 16, the result came at a cost as Andrés Iniesta limped off with a thigh injury.
Basel's first-half performance brimmed with discipline and intelligence against a Barcelona side who, though lacking the sparkle of their emphatic win a fortnight ago, played with real tempo. It met with the enthusiastic approval from the noisy and happy band of Swiss visitors high in the Camp Nou stands. With Messi, Xavi Hernández and Samuel Eto'o on the bench, much rested on the shoulders of Iniesta and, fortunately for Barça's chances, the midfielder fizzed with energy.
His link-up with Henry supplied two good chances for the Frenchman, the first of which was curled narrowly past Franco Costanzo's left-hand post. Iniesta himself then added to the pressure with a low drive which the goalkeeper kept out, as he and central defender François Marque caught the eye for Basel. Nevertheless, Barça passed up another golden opportunity to eke out a half-time lead as Sylvinho delivered a perfect free-kick for Henry to glance a header towards the top corner but, again, Costanzo excelled.
The Argentinian reaffirmed his credentials after the break when Henry clipped the ball into space for Bojan Krkić to go clear, only for Costanzo to block with his feet. That was enough for Josep Guardiola, who promptly threw on Xavi and Messi and was rewarded within two minutes. Messi picked up a loose ball and burst forward before exchanging passes with Henry and slotting his fourth UEFA Champions League goal in as many matches into the bottom corner of the net.
Xavi also made an impact, forcing yet another fine save from Costanzo with a free-kick, but the loss of Iniesta with an injury to his right thigh in the 67th minute will worry Guardiola. The presence of Gerard Piqué from set-pieces added to the general sense of menace around the Basel penalty area but instead the second goal of the match came at the other end, Carlitos swinging in a right-wing cross for Derdiyok to crash a wonderful volley past Victor Valdés and ensure both sides had something to celebrate.
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