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Stocker leads Basel to Dnipro triumph

FC Basel 1893 2-0 FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
The Swiss champions will take a commanding lead to Ukraine next week after Valentin Stocker scored one and created another in Basle.

Stocker leads Basel to Dnipro triumph
Stocker leads Basel to Dnipro triumph ©UEFA.com

FC Basel 1893 scored midway through each half to open up a notable lead against FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in their round of 32 first leg in snowy northern Switzerland.

Juande Ramos's team registered 16 goals during the group stage but were chasing the game once Valentin Stocker had converted from six metres in the 23rd minute. The scale of their task at Dnipro Arena doubled when Marco Streller swooped to head his fourth goal in this season's competition.

Dnipro began proceedings with the attacking endeavour that has become familiar on UEFA Europa League nights, Yevhen Konoplyanka off target after Vitaly Mandziuk had been the recipient of a clever free-kick. Konoplyanka then found space again 15 metres out, only to misjudge his angles with the final shot.

Given an added spring in their step by the double reprieve, Basel gradually wrested control of midfield. Their tenacity was exemplified by Cabral's wholehearted header goalwards from the edge of the penalty area, which was trapped by Stocker who stylishly swept past Jan Laštůvka from six metres.

St. Jakob-Park was decorated lavishly with snowfall soon after the goal and Murat Yakin's side looked comfortable on the ball in their picturesque surroundings, emerging unscathed from one scare at the end of the first period. Roman Zozulya lunged in at the near post to meet a low cross from the threatening Konoplyanka, only for Yann Sommer to repel the effort behind for a corner.

Konoplyanka was given further support in the second half when Ramos drafted in striker Yevhen Seleznyov and Matheus from the bench, but on 14 February nobody could deny it would be Valentin's day. On 67 minutes, Stocker sent over a left-footed corner that was glanced into the net off the head of Streller to put Basel in pole position for a last-16 date with FC Zenit St Petersburg or Liverpool FC.

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