Alexander Frei struck twice against PFC CSKA Sofia for the second game running to earn injury-hit FC Basel 1893 a victory that strengthens their hold on UEFA Europa League Group E.
The visitors, who lost 2-0 to two Frei goals in Sofia a fortnight ago, were on top in the first half-hour, but the game changed dramatically in the space of six minutes, with Marcos Gelabert opening the scoring before Frei converted a penalty. Todor Yanchev pulled back one just after the hour only for Frei to strike again shortly afterwards to keep Basel two points clear of AS Roma, whom they visit on 3 December. CSKA are now six adrift of the Giallorossi and need to win at Fulham FC, while hoping the Italian side lose, to have any chance of progress.
Missing goalkeeper Franco Costanzo, defender David Abraham and midfielders Carlitos and Antonio da Silva, Basel were on the back foot early on. But their fortunes changed when Valentin Stockler laid the ball into the path of Gelabert, whose 20-metre shot deflected off Benjamin Huggel on its way into the goal. Shortly afterwards, Frei added the second after being fouled by Aleksander Brankov and converting the penalty himself. Basel then went close to adding a third when Samuel Inkoom brilliantly weaved his way past three players and found Federico Almerares, whose shot was blocked by Zdravko Chavdarov.
CSKA came back into the match in the 61st minute when Marquinhos's corner eluded a pack of players and found Yanchev, who controlled the ball on his chest and scored with an exquisite hooked shot. Their revival was short-lived, however, as six minutes later Huggel's long pass was misjudged by the CSKA defence and fell to Frei, who slipped cleverly past Chavdarov and scored into the empty net.