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Benfica proud as defeat lowers Basel horizons

Nicolás Gaitán and Axel Witsel were proud of SL Benfica's 2-0 success at FC Basel 1893, with the hosts' Fabian Frei conceding: "If we finish third then we have achieved our aim."

Benfica proud as defeat lowers Basel horizons
Benfica proud as defeat lowers Basel horizons ©

Midfielders Nicolás Gaitán and Axel Witsel felt SL Benfica scored at crucial moments in Tuesday's 2-0 win at FC Basel 1893. A home victory against the same opponents on matchday four will secure the Lisbon side a place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16, after goals from Bruno César (20) and Óscar Cardozo 75) sealed the points in Switzerland in Group C. Meanwhile, Basel's Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabian Frei lamented their team's lack of cutting edge.

Nicolás Gaitán, Benfica midfielder
We came here to pick up three points and fortunately we did that so I am very happy because the team was very strong. All our players played really well. At the beginning it was very competitive. We knew it was going to be like that because Basel were playing at home. They have a very good way of playing football and we knew it would be difficult, but at the same time we knew that if we started quickly, that could make the difference.

I was just fortunate to be part of the build-up to the opening goal – my team-mates' movement was very good which makes it easier for me. Also Bruno César finished it very well. And Óscar Cardozo scored at an important moment in the second half because Basel were looking for an equaliser. We knew they would try to do that, so our second goal allowed us to play calmly near the end.

Axel Witsel, Benfica midfielder
Basel are a difficult team to play against, especially at their own ground. They got a draw at Manchester United and so we had to be wary. We came here with respect for them but once we got on the field we showed what we could do and we were very strong.

We got off to a good start; we put pressure on Basel to stop them from playing and we scored fairly early on which set us up nicely for the rest of the match. It was a little tricky at times in the second half but we stayed tight and strong, and didn't give them much space. The second goal made our task a lot easier.

It was great to see lots of Benfica supporters at the ground – you would have thought it was a home game for us. It would be fantastic if they continue getting behind us like that. It's great to be top of the group but we won't get carried away, we'll take it game by game. The next match is Basel at home and we'll definitely want to take three points again.

Xherdan Shaqiri, Basel winger
We played well but we didn't get three points which is more important. It is a pity that we lost at home where we are normally strong. Both teams played well, both wanted to play attacking football. We could see how good Benfica are when they attack and how well they counterattack, as we saw before the first goal; that was a super counterattack.

Until their second goal we still had a chance to equalise but in the last third we didn't have enough conviction. If we had had that, maybe the result would have been different. But now we have to accept this defeat, which makes me angry like any defeat does. We still have four points after three matches which isn't that bad. And we still have the chance to reach the next round.

Fabian Frei, Basel midfielder
Benfica's defence was very good tonight so it was very difficult for us to attack, and up front you can see how good they are. Benfica didn't have too many chances either but they were always dangerous. We didn't play badly but we didn't do much in the final third and our crossing was poor at times. We originally set out with the aim of getting at least third place, so we have to be realistic. If we finish third then we have achieved our aim.