Hakan Yakin's superb long-range goal gave FC Basel a thrilling victory against an RC Deportivo La Coruña side whose UEFA Champions League campaign seems to have stalled. The spectacular shot from the Swiss international was no more than Christian Gross's side deserved, as they swept forward for the first half, and then closed ranks during the second period.
Victory was reward for the planning of Gross who, aware his side were without a point in Group D, had organised two winter training camps to counter the absence of any domestic action. Although he had lost Antonio Esposito and Ivan Ergic, Deportivo were even more depleted, with Fran González, Víctor Sánchez and César Martín among their injured players. Donato Gama was fit though, becoming, at 40 years and 51 days, the second-oldest player to take part in the Champions League.
Basel's freshness seemed to provide them with the early edge against a Deportivo side desperate for victory, having only picked up one point themselves. Hakan Yakin and Julio Hernán Rossi - who both turn 26 on Saturday - were constantly dangerous and even before they combined for the goal troubled the visitors constantly.
Roy Makaay was himself proving a menace for Deportivo, and shot over after nine minutes. But not long afterwards, Basel's lively Australian Scott Chipperfield was tripped 20 metres out, and Murat Yakin's curling free-kick hit the inside of the post to Deportivo goalkeeper Juanmi's relief.
Deportivo were forced to block a series of shots on the edge of their area, although Makaay and Albert Luque proved well able to break quickly, the Dutchman forcing Pascal Zuberbühler to save with his legs. Just before the half-hour mark, Aldo Duscher had a shot cleared off the line, but within a minute Basel were ahead.
Inevitably, it was the combination of Rossi and Hakan Yakin. A clearance was controlled by Rossi, who squared the ball, allowing Hakan Yakin to produce a curling 25-metre half-volley that beat the dive of Juanmi. The Deportivo goalkeeper then did save a Hakan Yakin overhead kick, but at the break Basel were clearly on top.
Deportivo introduced Diego Tristán at the break to try to inspire their attack, while Basel withdrew Rossi only a few minutes later. It did not stop the home side attacking, though, as Sébastien Barberis volleyed just wide with Christian Giménez close to deflecting the ball in. Luque then fell in the area as he attempted to connect with a loose ball five metres from the Basel goal, allowing home goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler to collect.
As the second half wore on, Basel showed a defensive determination, personified by Murat Yakin, that they had not shown earlier in the competition. Makaay in particular was increasingly frustrated as Deportivo's efforts all seemed to come to naught. Indeed, despite the visitors' efforts, there were not the chances that had resulted in the first half as Basel killed the game and held on for another superb result in their European odyssey.