FC Basel 1893 revived memories of some of their finest European nights at the St. Jakob-Park by defeating AS Monaco FC 1-0 to establish early control of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie.
Basel became the first Swiss club to progress to the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League in 2002/03, and they will feel they have an excellent chance of winning a spot in the last 16 of this competition following David Degen's decisive strike in the 78th minute tonight. Monaco coach Francesco Guidolin handed compatriot Christian Vieri his first European start for the club, but the Italy striker was unable to get the better of Basel goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler - something he might have to do back in the Principality next week.
Having dropped to ninth spot in Ligue 1, Monaco were eager to impress on the continental stage but always appeared vulnerable against a solid Basel outfit. The Swiss side took control of the match from the off, and went close to breaking the deadlock in the 19th minute as Lucas Bernardi cleared Eduardo's goalbound header from Mladen Petrić's long free-kick. Six minutes later Petrić dispossessed Monaco's Maicon and fizzed a fierce shot narrowly wide.
Monaco playmaker Camel Meriem tested Zuberbühler in the 31st minute, and teenager Serge Gapke was close to scoring on his European debut as the visitors pressed. Petrić, Matías Delgado and Mile Sterjovski all threatened Guillaume Warmuz's goal early in the second half, while the Monaco keeper also frustrated Bruno Berner and Petrić again before he was finally beaten by Degen, the midfielder finishing coolly following Eduardo's pass.
Brazilian defender Maicon had an excellent opportunity to ensure a share of the spoils late on, but missed and Monaco cannot afford such profligacy at the Stade Louis II if they are to retain any hope of lifting their first European trophy.