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Roma hang on to make amends at Basel

FC Basel 1893 2-3 AS Roma
Cruising at half-time, Roma were forced to cling on for a win that lifts them to second in Group E after fending off a spirited Basel fightback.

Basel - Roma ©Getty Images

Substitute Leandro Greco's strike proved decisive as AS Roma held off a spirited fightback from FC Basel 1893 to run out 3-2 winners and avenge their home loss to the same opponents a fortnight ago.

Jérémy Menez's opener and Francesco Totti's penalty had put the visitors firmly in control by the break. However, an Alexander Frei header and a late goal from Xherdan Shaqiri meant the Serie A side required Greco's third in between to ensure victory – a win that lifts Roma up into second in Group E, three points ahead of Basel and CFR 1907 Cluj.

With both clubs level in the section ahead of return meeting, there was always a danger that caution could overshadow proceedings at St. Jakob-Park. Fortunately both sides pressed for an early lead. Menez was the first to go close for Roma when he grazed the bar from a tight angle, before Júlio Sérgio bravely denied Benjamin Huggel at the other end.

Confidence high after their victory at the Stadio Olimpico a fortnight ago, the hosts were looking ominous in the final third, so it came against the run of play when the visitors took the lead on 16 minutes. Samuel Inkoom did enough to halt Mirko Vučinić before he could pull the trigger, but was helpless as Menez stroked in the loose ball.

Claudio Ranieri's side then doubled their lead with 25 minutes gone. Valentin Stocker tugged at John Arne Riise as the Norwegian international made strides into the box, allowing Totti to fire in the resulting penalty. Demoralised by the two-goal deficit, Basel received a rousing reception upon their return after interval, though it took until midway through the second period for the hosts to threaten.

First Gilles Yapi sent a dipping volley narrowly over, before David Abraham charged forward from centre-back only to blast a fearsome shot just wide. Basel's renewed efforts were rewarded on 69 minutes when Stocker's left-wing cross was deflected past Roma goalkeeper Júlio Sérgio, allowing Frei to nod into the unguarded net.

Marco Streller struck a post, but hopes of a comeback were dealt a further blow on 76 minutes as substitute Greco fired in Roma's third following some good work in the box by Marco Borriello. Shaqiri's late goal for Basel set up a tense finale, but ultimately Ranieri's charges held on for a crucial three points. The home side's frustration was compounded in added time as Stocker was shown a second yellow card.

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