By Jennifer Juneau
Reporting from St. Jakob-Park, Basel Switzerland
Basel 1 Salah 87
The mood at St. Jakob Park was exuberant. The weather? Let’s not discuss it.
The buzz at matchday five of the Champions League was this: Chelsea were seeking to win and to seek revenge against FC Basel after their defeat at Stamford Bridge. There was more at stake for FC Basel in view of their spot in Group E and their perseverance proved it.
Considering how impressive Basel had been in their last match, it was no surprise that Chelsea manager José Mourinho put forth his best men.
This did not deter Basel’s confidence, as they dominated the game within seconds after kick-off, putting Chelsea on the defense. Basel’s domination lasted the first half testing Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and proving him to be the most valuable player for Chelsea by far.
As in any case of foul behavior, in a moment’s notice, a yellow card for Taulant Xhaka in the 36th minute discomfited Basel’s spunk and a free kick was awarded to Branislav Ivanovic that resulted in squat: another misconduct seemingly contrived and a dispute just as trite emerged to no avail.
An injury to Samuel Eto’o brought him out of the match and Fernando Torres in, in minute 39.
After an uneventful first half, there was one minute of extra time.
In the second half Basel continued to give Chelsea a struggle.
Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard, who has been nominated for the 2014 FIFA Ballon d’Or, came on in the 55th minute to replace Oscar.
Basel substitutions included Arlind Ajeti for Xhaka in the 71st minute and Giovanni Sio for Marco Streller in the 78th minute.
In the 86th minute, as one last hope for Chelsea, Kevin De Bruyne replaced Willian.
But Chelsea’s hopes were expunged by the Swiss side, as the match was cloyed with anticipation for a Basel goal, shot after shot, until they finally delivered in the 87th minute by Mohamed Salah.
Murat Yakin’s side continued to take the initiative as if it were handed to them on a platter…and basically it was.
The shock did not surface in a Chelsea defeat, the shock is this: according to Basel midfielder Valentin Stocker during an interview, Chelsea were overconfident and reluctant to take Basel seriously. They arrived in Basel a day prior to the game and didn’t feel the need to practice.
Basel’s commitment was unequivocal and paid off as they proved that they were in no mood to reconcile. The result was simply a mission accomplished.
As complex in its cause and frustrating in its effect, Chelsea, as the Premier League giant, strived to intimidate the modest Swiss side, but instead were humbled for a second time.