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Last-gasp Sio strike rescues Basel against Steaua

FC Basel 1893 1-1 FC Steaua Bucureşti
Substitute Giovanni Sio scored in the final seconds to deny the Romanian champions what would have been their first group stage win since 2006.

Basel 1-1 Steaua: the story in photos ©AFP/Getty Images

Two weeks after FC Steaua Bucureşti had frustrated FC Basel 1893 with a late equaliser Giovanni Sio turned the tables on the Romanian title holders, the Basel substitute's added-time equaliser denying Steaua a first UEFA Champions League group stage win in over seven years.

Building on their hard work from the first meeting in Romania, and Leandro Tatu's 88th-minute strike that had brought a 1-1 draw, Laurenţiu Reghecampf's team soaked up early Basel pressure. Having taken the lead thanks to a composed finish by Federico Piovaccari, the visitors were close to sealing their first victory in 21 UEFA Champions League matches and climbing into contention for a top-two finish in Group E. However, just as the home fans were beginning to lose hope, Sio slid in Valentin Stocker's cross to move Murat Yakin's men just a point behind second-placed FC Schalke 04.

Steaua started with the solidity that would characterise their whole performance, particularly through captain Alexandru Bourceanu and Mihai Pintilii, who partnered him in defensive midfield having recovered from injury. However, they opened the scoring in the 17th minute thanks to a direct pass from Łukasz Szukała that bisected the Basel central defenders and left Piovaccari with ample time to pick his spot and score for the ninth time in 13 appearances.

The home side had controlled possession before that goal but only had the free-kick Matías Delgado sent wide to show for it as Reghecampf's men maintained their discipline and work-rate to the break. They might even have notched a second within minutes of the half-time whistle but Yann Sommer produced an agile double save, flinging himself to his right to push away Szukała's header before readjusting to dive left and deny Florin Gardoş from the rebound.

Perhaps inspired by the nearby rock concert, Basel supporters conjured up a few melodies for the second half which seemed to help their team to find their fluency. From a Stocker corner, centre-back Ivan Ivanov directed an angled header wide of the far post with goalkeeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu committed. However, their opponents refused to tire and opportunities dried up for the champions of Switzerland.

One last opening was enough to take a point though, Stocker finally separating the central defensive pairing with a left-footed cross that Sio prodded in to peg back Steaua at the last. Basel next welcome Chelsea FC on matchday five, when Steaua take on FC Schalke 04.

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