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Sommer and Shaqiri hail Basel spirit

Published: Thursday 23 February 2012, 8.45CET
Yann Sommer hailed a "great display" after FC Basel 1893 seized a 1-0 last-16 first-leg lead against FC Bayern München, with Xherdan Shaqiri delighted by the home side's spirit.
by Andy James
from St. Jakob-Park
 
 
 
Published: Thursday 23 February 2012, 8.45CET

Sommer and Shaqiri hail Basel spirit

Yann Sommer hailed a "great display" after FC Basel 1893 seized a 1-0 last-16 first-leg lead against FC Bayern München, with Xherdan Shaqiri delighted by the home side's spirit.

Goalkeeper Yann Sommer hailed a "great performance" from his side after FC Basel 1893 seized a 1-0 first-leg advantage in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie against FC Bayern München.

Luck was on our side tonight and obviously you need that to be successful, but we also fought hard as a team
Yann Sommer

Sommer made a string of crucial saves as Basel withstood an early onslaught from their illustrious visitors, laying the groundwork for a late victory that came courtesy of substitute Valentin Stocker's 86th-minute strike.

"Everyone performed well, even me," the 23-year-old, who also appeared in all six of Basel's group matches, told UEFA.com. "It was important for me to save the first few shots because that got me involved in the game and gave me confidence. Luck was on our side tonight and obviously you need that to be successful, but we also fought hard as a team. It was a great performance."

Midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri echoed those sentiments, pinpointing good defensive work as one of the key factors in the success against his future employers. "It was a difficult game for us, but in the end we deserved the win because of our fighting spirit," said the Switzerland playmaker. "We had a few organisational problems in defence at the start, but that improved as the game wore on. A good defence is the basis for any victory."

However, to attribute Basel's triumph solely to their defensive efforts would be to do a disservice to their attacking endeavours. 'Bebbi', as they are affectionately known by locals, came desperately close to opening the scoring midway through the first half when defender Aleksandar Dragović's header was turned against the post by Bayern No1 Manuel Neuer, moments before Alexander Frei rattled the crossbar with another attempt. "If we'd taken the lead then, the game might have turned out differently," Shaqiri added.

Having agreed to join Bayern at the end of this campaign, the diminutive winger was under intense scrutiny both before and during the match, yet Shaqiri insisted his sole focus was on performing for his current employers. "For me, personally, it was a special game," said the 20-year-old, "but it wasn't difficult to concentrate on the task in hand once I was out on the pitch."

With Manchester United FC already taken to their sword in the group stage, Basel are fast gaining a reputation as the giant-killers of this season's competition. If they can manage an away goal in Munich in the return leg on 13 March – something coach Heiko Vogel believes they are capable of – Bayern would need to score three to keep alive their hopes of a home final.

However, centre-back Dragović was reluctant to speak of a possible first-ever quarter-final for the Swiss Super League leaders. "We won 1-0 and wrote a little piece of history," said the Austria player, who swapped shirts with friend and international team-mate David Alaba at the final whistle. "We've raised awareness about Swiss football and FC Basel, but we can't afford to get carried away. We still have to go to Munich, but we'll head there full of confidence."

Last updated: 25/09/14 6.32CET

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