FC Steaua Bucureşti rescued themselves with two minutes remaining: a first goal of this season's competition earning them a first point. It was a dramatic end, with FC Basel 1893 having a second away victory in UEFA Champions League Group E snatched from their grasp.
A touch of class from Marcelo Díaz had given the visitors the lead and with Steaua showing little idea of how to match his finishing skills it appeared likely to be enough. Then Adrian Popa swung the ball across and substitute Leandro Tatu arrived to drive it home.
Steaua coach Laurenţiu Reghecampf had demanded his side bare their teeth after resounding defeats by FC Schalke 04 and Chelsea FC and they certainly got in their opponents' faces, pressing at every opportunity and enjoying success in the tackle. They started on the front foot and generated an atmosphere of expectation inside the Arena Națională but, for all their spirit and endeavour, their failings in front of goal seemed sure to cost them dear.
The Swiss champions came alive in the tenth minute when in quick succession Marco Streller and Mohamed Salah got in behind the Steaua defence but promising positions yielded no more than a corner. Then the ball sailed over to Ivan Ivanov who must have thought he had scored as he headed the ball goalwards from close in. Somehow Steaua's Daniel Georgievski managed to divert the ball to safety; Ciprian Tătăruşanu saving Fabian Frei's attempt from the next corner with his legs.
Basel's approach play shone brightest yet it was impossible to fault Steaua's effort and desire. They looked to Nicolae Stanciu to give them a lift in the 23rd minute but his effort was wayward. Only five minutes of the first half remained when Steaua had another lucky escape. Valentin Stocker's drive caught the heel of Łukasz Szukała and flew beyond Tătăruşanu's despairing fingers only for the crossbar to intervene.
It delayed the breakthrough by a matter of minutes as Steaua were undone by a defensive error on 48 minutes. Iasmin Latovlevici fatefully chose to play the ball square and was punished as Streller seized possession and played in Díaz, who applied a superb finish into the top corner.
Latovlevici was granted the chance to make amends but opting to come inside onto his right foot he merely demonstrated with a sliced shot why he favours the other. The home crowd grew increasingly vocal in their frustration but how loud the cheers rang out when Tatu ended their search for a goal. Like Díaz, he delivered his first in the competition in some style.