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Basel brush aside Ludogorets

FC Basel 1893 2-0 PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (agg: 6-2)
Fabian Frei and substitute Philipp Degen were on target as the Swiss champions reached the group stage in convincing fashion.

Basel goalscorer Fabian Frei in action against Ludogorets
Basel goalscorer Fabian Frei in action against Ludogorets ©Getty Images

FC Basel 1893 sealed a fifth UEFA Champions League group stage appearance as they eased to a 2-0 victory against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad.

Leading 4-2 from the first leg, the Swiss title holders all but confirmed their place in Thursday's draw for the next phase when Fabian Frei headed in after 11 minutes. Stoicho Stoev's charges competed industriously in the hope of sparking a turnaround but were undone by another corner late on, Philipp Degen pouncing to complete a 6-2 aggregate success.

The game's first attempt spawned the opening goal as Marcelo Díaz's inswinging corner evaded a clutch of players at the near post, leaving Frei with a simple close-range header. Ludogorets almost found an instant equaliser as Ivan Stoyanov's whipped free-kick cannoned off the bar, yet the hosts responded in kind as Giovanni Sio galloped into the box and fired against the far upright.

Requiring four goals to have any chance of progression, the Bulgarian champions came forward whenever possible. Roman Bezjak should have levelled with a crisp volley from a swirling Choco cross, though in truth the chance was out of keeping with an opening 45 minutes that the hosts dominated without significantly threatening to double their advantage.

Murat Yakin's men subdued the tempo after the restart, retaining possession more effectively and restricting Ludogorets' attacking intent. The visitors' first serious sight of Yann Sommer's goal in the second half arrived after 65 minutes but substitute Fábio Espinho could only rifle his effort over the top from distance.

Set-piece frailty cost the away side again 11 minutes from time as Degen – introduced just two minutes earlier – stabbed in the second from fellow substitute Matías Delgado's corner. UEFA Europa League semi-finalists last season, Basel appear well equipped for a prolonged run in European competition again this term.

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