Alexander Frei's late penalty earned FC Basel 1893 a 2-1 Group C victory against FC Oţelul Galaţi as both teams finished with ten men at St. Jakob-Park.
Having deservedly led through Fabian Frei's powerful 39th-minute header, Basel were pegged back by Marius Pena before the real drama arrived in the closing stages. Alexander Frei converted a penalty after Adrian Sălăgeanu saw red for felling Marco Streller, and there was still time for Benjamin Huggel to be dismissed. Both will be suspended in a fortnight when the Swiss side travel to Manchester United FC and SL Benfica visit Bucharest.
While Basel saw most of the ball it was the visitors, making their debut at this level, who created the clearer chances in a confident opening spell. Yann Sommer was called into action as early as the second minute after his defence failed to clear but Gabriel Giurgiu shot weakly into the Basel goalkeeper's arms. Four minutes later the lively Liviu Antal broke with pace on the right and crossed to Giurgiu but Sommer had his volley covered.
With Oţelul relying on counterattacks, Basel patiently sought an opening. They nearly found one in the 27th minute when Milan Perendija failed to deal with Fabian Frei's long pass. The ball rolled into the path of Alexander Frei, whose thumping drive was fabulously saved by Branko Grahovac.
Basel were rewarded for their patience before half-time when Markus Steinhöfer's quick throw caught the visiting defence napping. Streller took out Sălăgeanu with a clever cut-back before sending in a perfectly-weighted cross that Fabian Frei headed in after powering into the box.
Oţelul responded impressively, and scored their first UEFA Champions League goal 58 minutes in. It was no surprise to see Antal involved, the No8 firing in a shot that Sommer spilled, leaving Pena to do the rest by chipping in cleverly.
Granit Xhaka and Alexander Frei failed to take opportunities to restore the lead, and Basel were running out of time when Sălăgeanu brought down Streller as he shaped to shoot just inside the box in the 82nd minute. Frei converted his spot kick confidently, despite Grahovac going the right way, although there was to be some disappointment for coach Thorsten Fink as Huggel's raised foot earned him a second yellow with three minutes left.