FC Basel 2-3 Newcastle United FC Newcastle come from behind twice to claim a superb victory.
Newcastle United FC twice came from behind at FC Basel and then struck a superb third goal through Shola Ameobi to give themselves a winning advantage after their UEFA Cup second round first-leg encounter.
There was a time in the first half when Basel, having just scored for the second time in five minutes to regain the lead, looked capable of running riot. But Newcastle dug in, found a second equaliser before half-time and then proceeded to have the better of things after the break.
It was a thrilling affair and promises much for the return at St James' Park in three weeks time. Newcastle will know the tie is far from over but this was a marvellous result against a side who have established a 12-point lead in the Swiss top flight.
'Hard-fought and gruelling'
The Newcastle manager, Sir Bobby Robson, paid tribute to his side's character and said they had won "a very meritorius match". He added: “It was hard-fought and gruelling and we stuck at it. The return game will be tough but it is a vital lead and three goals away from home is marvellous."
Verve and pace
Basel raided with verve and pace in the first half and had already come close on a couple of occasions before Mario Cantaluppi rammed home a fulsome drive from outside the penalty area. The visitors hit back within two minutes when Laurent Robert was sent clear ahead of the defence. The French winger finished with aplomb, guiding a low shot into the far corner of the net.
Incredibly this burst of goalscoring had not run its course and a third in five minutes then followed. Although Andy O'Brien met a corner with his head the danger was not over and Scott Chipperfield was well placed to pick up the loose ball. He left Shay Given beaten again as the shot took a deflection off Jermaine Jenas.
Newcastle looked vulnerable every time Basel moved over the halfway line. Christian Giménez was always dangerous and the height of Marco Streller offered Basel another attacking option. The English side deserve credit then for weathering that spell without any further storm damage and for then finding a second equaliser. Titus Bramble, who later revealed all his defensive acumen with some timely blocks, reacted sharply after Gary Speed had first tried to apply a header from a Robert corner and forced the ball home.
Before the break Giménez headed against a post and second-half substitute Julio Hernán Rossi forced Nolberto Solano to clear off the line when a corner came unexpectedly to him and diverted off his face. But Newcastle were now the dominant side and it was Solano's pass that set up the winning goal. Ameobi skilfully shook off the attentions of Marco Zwyssig before driving the ball between the legs of Pascal Zuberbühler.
Basel coach Christian Gross blamed defensive mistakes for the defeat and said they found it hard to crack the Newcastle rearguard. "Of course it is a very difficult situation but we will go [to Newcastle] and try to do our best," he added.