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Chelsea through despite second Basel defeat

FC Basel 1893 1-0 Chelsea FC
The English side booked their last-16 spot despite conceding an 87th-minute Mohamed Salah goal that leaves Basel needing a point to join them.

Chelsea through despite second Basel defeat
Chelsea through despite second Basel defeat ©UEFA.com

Mohamed Salah gave FC Basel 1893 real hope of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout stages as he struck the only goal of the game to beat a Chelsea FC side who advance regardless.

Basel had stunned the 2012 European champions at Stamford Bridge on matchday one and Murat Yakin's men showed the result was no fluke with an equally impressive display. Salah scored in England, and again confirmed his prodigious talent with a coolly taken effort to lift the Swiss title holders above FC Schalke 04 in Group E. A draw in Gelsenkirchen on matchday six will see Basel through to the last 16 while Chelsea, who progress despite defeat, need to win at home to FC Steaua București to be certain of topping the section.

The hosts knew a point would be enough to keep their campaign alive, but thoughts of containment were clearly far from their minds. Petr Čech pushed out a Taulant Xhaka free-kick before parrying Fabian Frei's drive; he was fortunate to see the ball squirm away from the onrushing Marco Streller. The Czech international was beaten, however, when Ivan Ivanov touched an inswinging corner goalwards and only John Obi Mikel's judicious positioning on the line denied Basel.

Čech remained their source of frustration. He had already tipped one Salah attempt over, when it took a breathtaking stop to keep the Egyptian international at bay – the Chelsea keeper shooting up a hand to turn the ball over when it appeared destined to beat him. For a team José Mourinho had claimed were under pressure, Basel looked nerveless, not nervous.

Chelsea, for their part, were disjointed. Samuel Eto'o was a breath away from touching in a Branislav Ivanović cross in their sole menacing move before the break. The introduction of Fernando Torres in place of the injured Cameroon forward before half-time and even that of Eden Hazard proved insufficient to get Chelsea firing on a bitterly cold evening.

They did, though, prove more effective in thwarting the home side, whose head of steam seemed to dissipate as the night grew yet chillier. Basel still sent a shiver down the visitors' spine when Serey Die's volley scurried narrowly wide, before Salah dashed in behind Ivanović to meet Fabien Schär's diagonal long ball. The Basel midfielder's first touch was assured; his finish – lifted delicately over Čech – was born of self-belief that Yakin's troops will take with them to Germany with their destiny in their own hands.

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