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Basel draw a blank against holders Sevilla

Basel 0-0 Sevilla
The 2016 UEFA Europa League final hosts missed two decent chances, but had goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík to thank as the holders were kept at bay.

First-leg highlights: Basel 0 Sevilla 0
  • Final hosts stifled, holders held
  • Marc Janko and Birkir Bjarnason miss Basel's best chances
  • Home keeper Tomáš Vaclík makes three decisive saves in the second half
  • Sevilla midfielder Steven N'Zonzi dismissed for a second booking late on
  • The second leg is next Thursday, with the quarter-final draw the following day

Three second-half saves from Basel's Tomáš Vaclík kept the final hosts in contention, but holders Sevilla will not be unhappy with a goalless draw in their UEFA Europa League round of 16 opener.

Marc Janko rose to head wide early on for the home side – easily Basel's best chance of the first half – with Sevilla dominating possession thereafter. Steven N'Zonzi went reasonably close with headers at either end of the period, while Éver Banega twice found Coke with free-kicks but the Sevilla captain was unable to find the target from either position.

Basel's resolve returned after the break, if not their composure, Birkir Bjarnason blazing off target from a loose ball after a Renato Steffen shot was blocked. The Icelandic midfielder then pulled a decent ball across from the right, only for substitute Adama Traoré to scuff his attempted conversion.

However, it might have been worse for the Swiss team but for Vaclík, who saved with his feet after N'Zonzi was played in and then kept out Kevin Gameiro's low drive, going to ground once more to repel Yevhen Konoplyanka as time ticked down. Midfielder N'Zonzi's dismissal at the finish offered Basel hope, but Sevilla held firm.

Draw positive for Sevilla
Sevilla have not won a European away game all season, so a 0-0 in Switzerland represents a marked improvement. They have lost four on the road so far in 2015/16 – one more defeat than they suffered away in their successful 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns combined.

Solace for Basel
Basel's dream of playing in the final at their own stadium on 18 May looks a little less likely after the first leg, but they can take some solace in a fine European away record this term (W4 D1 L1 since entering the UEFA Champions League in the third qualifying round).

©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images