Sporting Clube de Portugal will head into the first knockout round in positive mood after they rounded off their Group C campaign with a 1-0 victory at FC Basel 1893.
Paulo Bento's men had clinched their place in the last 16 prior to arriving in Switzerland, but they returned to winning ways following their 5-2 defeat by FC Barcelona last time out as Yannick Djaló's maiden UEFA Champions League goal means they finish just a point behind the Catalan club. Basel, meanwhile, are left nursing bruised egos after a disappointing campaign which brought them just a single point.
It was the hosts, however, who had enjoyed the lion's share of possession in a lively opening, though Sporting striker Derlei – replacing the injured Liedson – should have done better than drag an early shot across goal following a swift counterattack. Indeed, while Basel continued to play neatly but without carrying much threat, the speed with which the visitors could turn defence into attack was menacing. A measured ball found Djaló racing clear, and though his cross was met by a powerful header from the unmarked Derlei, Franco Costanzo parried. João Moutinho then flashed a shot just over, and Sporting finally made the breakthrough on 19 minutes. Marat Izmailov's low cross from the right was turned in from point-blank range by the onrushing Djaló.
The early goal and torrential rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the Basel fans, who could have been celebrating only a third goal in the section for their side when Fábio Rochemback lost possession to present Benjamin Huggel with a shooting chance, but the midfielder sent a fierce shot just wide. Ivan Ergić did find the target soon after, but his drive lacked sufficient power to trouble Tiago, while Djaló may have scored a second had his standing foot not slipped after he had cleverly created space inside the box.
The half-time introduction of Valentin Stocker gave Basel increased verve down the left and, seconds after the restart, an early cross from that flank led to Marco Streller skewing a shot disappointingly wide. Huggel then tested Tiago – standing in for the suspended Rui Patrício – as the hosts sought a leveller.
Sporting were clearly content to let the waves of pressure break on their back four, and counterattack at pace. Djaló was a blur of stepovers as he teased Beg Ferati on the left, but despite rounding the Basel defender, his cross saw the diminutive Moutinho comfortably outmuscled by François Marque. Less flamboyant, but equally effective, Stocker's direct approach won a corner, which the soaring Ergić headed over. Djaló, however, should have done better than miscue his shot when Marco Caneira's cross found him in space on the edge of the box.
Fabien Frei brought a first real save out of Tiago with a low drive 16 minutes from time, while Stocker forced the veteran into two fine stops in quick succession with what would be Basel's last hurrah in European competition this season.