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Obstinate Basel stifle Maccabi

Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC 0-0 FC Basel 1893
The hosts found dismantling the defiant Swiss champions to be an impossible task – but a score draw will suffice in the return leg.

Despite their enterprise in attack, Maccabi found no way past Basel
Despite their enterprise in attack, Maccabi found no way past Basel ©AFP/Getty Images

There was nothing to separate Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and FC Basel 1893 as the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie finished goalless.

Opportunities were few and far between in a match that never really found its rhythm. Maccabi got off to an electric start and worked better openings overall, but found dismantling a defiant Basel to be an impossible task.

Barak Itzhaki forced a routine low save from Yann Sommer early on, though it was the invention rather than the execution of the chance that caught the eye. Itzhaki laid the ball off with his chest for Maharan Radi, who surged on and supplied an inviting return pass. Basel wasted the half's only other real opportunity as Gastón Sauro battled well to get to a deep delivery but headed straight at a grateful Juan Pablo.

After a similarly sedentary opening to the second period, visiting substitute Fabian Frei came close to breaking the deadlock, albeit unintentionally. His curling free-kick cross evaded everyone in the crowded penalty area and narrowly failed to nestle in the bottom corner.

The Israeli outfit attempted to grab the contest by the scruff of the neck in the final stages. The desperate dive of Behrang Safari prevented Eran Zahavi burying a miscued clearance, and moments later Sommer's reflexes matched the forward's redirection of an ambitious Radi effort.

The Basel defence were all hands to the pump as Maccabi came at them in waves in the embers of the game, and timely interceptions and brave blocks ensured the Swiss champions weathered the storm.

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