Sporting Clube de Portugal got their UEFA Champions League campaign off the ground against FC Basel 1893, although it took a bizarre own goal to break the Swiss side's staunch resistance.
Basel had conceded five times against these opponents last season in the UEFA Cup Round of 32, but proved more obdurate in this Group C game until David Abraham's attempted clearance struck Reto Zanni and rebounded into his own goal ten minutes into the second period. With Basel forced to commit more men forward, Sporting looked increasingly likely to double their advantage and four minutes from time the impressive Derlei duly sealed victory – and condemned Basel to a second successive defeat.
Any thoughts the home side had of an easy ride against opponents they beat convincingly in February were quickly dispelled, the Swiss champions making good on coach Christian Gross' pledge that they would come to attack. Jürgen Gjasula, replacing the injured Valentin Stocker, made space for an early shot but failed to seriously trouble Rui Patrício, before Tonel had to make an acrobatic clearance to deny the returning Marco Streller a clear run on goal.
The home side did threaten through Derlei, although it was unfortunate for Basel that the first clear-cut chance of the night fell to defender Abraham. The Argentinian centre-back was afforded plenty of time and space to meet Streller's intelligent lay-off only to slice his shot wide. The lively Derlei was then almost presented with a chance to score a first UEFA Champions League goal since his semi-final winner against RC Deportivo La Coruña in 2003/04, but failed to control. At the other end Streller's touch also let him down, although it was the home team who went closest before half-time with Romagnoli and Rochemback both getting shots in.
Home coach Paulo Bento clearly felt there was room for improvement and introduced Simon Vukčević, scorer of two goals against Basel last season, but it was Derlei who almost broke the deadlock, heading João Moutinho's acrobatic overhead cross against the post. Instead, Basel were undone by one of their own ten minutes into the second period, Abraham attempting to clear under pressure from Romagnoli and the ball striking Zanni and looping beyond Franco Costanzo. Romagnoli almost quickly increased the lead, the goalkeeper turning his powerful strike around the post.
Still the visitors refused to lie down and Benjamin Huggel was only denied an equaliser by a sprawling save from Rui Patrício, who then touched over a Gjasula free-kick. That was as good as it got for the visitors as Sporting exploited the extra space, the unlucky Derlei again denied by the woodwork with a header. Having had an effort ruled out for offside, Derlei got the goal his efforts had warranted in the 86th minute, slotting in Romagnoli's pass to ensure Sporting go into a tricky and potentially decisive trip to FC Shakhtar Donetsk in good heart, while Basel must regroup swiftly for a daunting double-header against 2006 winners FC Barcelona.