By Michael Harrold
Matías Delgado's free-kick with eight minutes to play earned FC Basel 1893 a point in their opening UEFA Cup Group A match against FC Schalke 04.
Levan Kobiashvili had put Schalke ahead with a stunning strike on eight minutes, but the UEFA Intertoto Cup winners were denied victory by an equally impressive effort from Delgado, the substitute curling his shot over the wall and beyond a stranded Frank Rost in the home goal.
Both sides came into the match with injury problems. Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick was without midfield player Jörg Böhme and defender Fabian Lamotte, while defender Murat Yakin missed out for Basel.
Rangnick made one tactical change from the side that beat FC Bayern München 1-0 on Saturday, with Brazilian Lincoln coming in for compatriot Ailton, while Basel coach Christian Gross stuck with the side that had beaten Servette FC.
The Swiss league leaders started with confidence, pushing Schalke back in the early exchanges. But the German side, buoyed by Saturday's victory over Bayern, soon stamped their authority on the game.
Christian Poulsen won the ball in midfield and laid it off to Kobiashvili, who burst through the centre before firing powerfully beyond Pascal Zuberbühler from 25 minutes on eight minutes.
It was a brilliant goal and brought the home crowd to their feet as Schalke pressed for a second. Another almost came on 26 minutes when Marco Zwyssig deflected a low cross goalwards only for the Basel defender to be saved by the alert reflexes of his own goalkeeper, Zuberbühler.
With Gerald Asamoah particularly lively, Basel were forced to defend deeply, but they slowly clawed back ground in midfield with some slick passing before creating their best chance on 36 minutes. Julio Rossi's corner from the left was met powerfully by Benjamin Huggel from close range, but Frank Rost palmed the defender's header away to safety.
After a cagey start to the second half the match opened up. First David Degen drew an excellent save from Rost after a good break upfield from the Swiss side, then on 57 minutes the goalkeeper had to be at full stretch to tip over Christian Giménez's header.
It was Basel's best spell of the match thus far, but moments later they almost fell further behind. Zuberbühler did well to tip Lincoln's shot over, but from the subsequent free-kick he could only watch as Marcelo Bordon flashed a header narrowly wide.
Basel, however, continued to threaten. Degen spurned an excellent opportunity from close range on 78 minutes, but four minutes later Basel drew level, Delgado earning his side a point with a precise free-kick.
Schalke are away to Heart of Midlothian FC, who lost 3-0 to Feyenoord, on Matchday 2 on 4 November, while Basel are next at home to Hearts on 25 November.
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