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April 3, 2014
• St. Jakob-Park, Basel
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 350
M. Delgado 34', 38'
V. Stocker 90'+
That is it from me, Tom Webber, tonight. Thanks a lot for joining me and have a great evening.
FULL TIME - Basel 3-0 Valencia: The Rotblau secure an impressive first-leg win thanks to a double from Delgado and a late strike from Stocker. It gives the Swiss side a commanding lead ahead of next week's return fixture at the Mestalla, where Valencia have it all to do if they are to remain in the competition.
90' + 3'
There is the final whistle! Basel take a huge step to a place in the Europa League semi-finals!
90' + 2'
Valencia paid the price for slack defending and a lack of urgency in midfield during the first half, and despite stepping up their game after the interval they have been punished for their profligacy in front of goal. Pizzi will be utterly frustrated.
90' + 1'
Assist Fabian Frei
90' + 1'
Goal Valentin Stocker
GOOOOOOOOOOAL! BASEL SEAL THE WIN! Stocker makes a clever run inside his own half to latch onto a through-ball before cutting across Barragan to go through one-on-one with Guaita. The keeper comes out to close the angle but he scoops an effort over the top of him and into the back of the net.
WHAT A CHANCE! Basel are let off the hook as Piatti picks out Keita in space inside the box, but the Malian fires his shot straight at Sommer. The keeper can only parry it back into the danger area but Aliji clears it over the bar.
Degen beats Pereira as he runs across from the right and then looks to dink a fantastic chip over the top of Guaita. The Valencia keeper has to backtrack and breathes a sigh of relief as it drops outside the post.
When they do get the ball, Basel break down field. With a lack of numbers they are forced to turn back and possession is sent all the way back to Sommer. They are trying to take the sting out of the game in the final moments.
A corner from Parejo is hit low towards the near post and after a couple of ricochets Serey Die manages to clear it away. Valencia are really piling on the pressure in these closing stages. To concede will be a real blow for the hosts.
A Valencia attack breaks down and Basel counter through Stocker. He has Elneny up in support and he lays the ball off to him. The Egyptian spots David Degen storming up to join the break and tries to pick him out, but he angles an awful pass straight to Guaita.
Mathieu races up from centre-back, overlapping Bernat and drilling the ball in from the byeline. However, he arrows it straight into the arms of Sommer. That was a poor ball from the Frenchman in truth, but Basel have really stepped off the gas.
The cameras have been focusing in on the injured Basel striker Streller watching on from the stands. Not unusual, you'd think, but it is because the Swiss was munching down a burger as he caught the final few moments of the game! Forget that diet if you're injured!
UNBELIEVABLE BLOCK! Embolo lets Bernat in behind and he rolls the ball back to Piatti. The Argentine drills it across the area where Vargas meets it, however the power behind the delivery discourages him from taking it first time. His touch gets away from him, and Sauro seizes the opportunity to dive in and block him inside the six-yard box.
Parejo strikes the free kick well, with plenty of power, but it is straight at Sommer who catches it in both hands without a worry. The midfielder should have done better from that.
Yellow Card B. Embolo
A free kick in a very dangerous position for Valencia as Bernat jinks past Embolo and is brought to ground by the substitute. This is a great chance for the visitors to get an important away goal.
It is all Valencia again, and Pizzi's men certainly look capable of grabbing a late goal here. So far Basel have been able to repel the majority of their attacks, but they look the most likely to score now.
A long ball over the top releases Stocker in behind the defence. He lacks the pace to make the most of it, though, as Barragan comes across to make an important tackle.
Federico Nicolás Cartabia
SO, SO CLOSE! Vargas gets free in the box and is unmarked as he connects with Cartabia's cross from the left, but he sends his header just outside of the post. That was a huge chance to grab a vital away goal but he's spurned it!
Feghouli bends in a quality delivery from the right, looking for Vargas at the near post, but Schar shows great anticipation to beat the Chilean to the ball and hook it to safety. He has had an impressive game in the heart of the defence.
Basel have absorbed much of the momentum developed by Valencia since the break, but should they concede then the tie will suddenly not look so secure. The next goal is absolutely crucial.
Bernat pushes on to support Cartabia with an overlapping run and although his cross is blocked, Valencia win a corner. That has been a feature of los Che's play since the break, with both full-backs pushing higher up the pitch.
STAT: Before tonight Valencia had scored the most goals (18), had the most efforts on target (55) and won the most games since the start of this season's group stage (7) of the eight sides in the quarter-finals.
Valencia have slipped back into the lethargy which they showed when defending in the first half. They allow Stocker to carry the ball towards the box and the Swiss obliges before releasing a shot from distance. However, he fails to keep the effort down and it flies over Guaita's net.
Delgado looks to have picked up a slight knock following a coming together with Alcacer, and Yakin opts to replace him with Elneny for the remainder of the game.
Matias Emilio Delgado
Mohamed El Nenny
Xhaka has moved to right-back following the introduction of Frei at half time, and he does superbly to turn away from Cartabia and draw a foul.
The resultant corner is sent in by Parejo, with Alcacer meeting it at the near post. From the acute angle he goes for goal but directs his effort over the top of the goal. Perhaps he would have been better off just flicking that on into the box.
GOOD SAVE! Vargas finally springs into life, dribbling in from the left and attempted to bend a powerful effort inside the far corner. He places it brilliantly, but Sommer leaps down to his left and parries the shot out for a corner.
Valencia try to play the ball out from the back, with Parejo turning his man 25 yards from his own goal. He lays it off to Cartabia and the Argentine is pulled back by Serey Die and the referee awards the visitors a free kick.
STAT: Basel have not conceded in their last three continental fixtures at St Jakob-Park. Valencia have been re-energised since the break though, and could have ended that run moments ago.
WHAT A CHANCE! Oh my, los Che should have pulled one back there! Cartabia drills a low cross in from the left but Alcacer, in space on the edge of the six-yard box, is unable to adjust quickly enough to turn it on target. It does direct the ball on to Vargas, though, however the Chilean also fails to react in time and the chance goes begging.
SO CLOSE! That is better from Alcacer as he makes a darting run in behind the defence but Vargas' cross is just too far ahead of him for him to connect and divert the ball on target. What a chance that was. An away goal could really change their outlook on this tie.
Yet again Alcacer is offside as he receives a pass from Parejo. The striker really needs to check his runs as he has been caught in an offside position too frequently tonight.
The second half is underway.
HALF TIME - Basel 2-0 Valencia: The Rotblau take a comfortable lead into the break thanks to a Matias Delgado double in just four minutes. The visitors have lacked urgency, creativity and desire in the first half and their coach has his work cut out to turn this one around. The hosts, though, have been thoroughly impressive on the ball and fully deserve their lead. Stay tuned for the second half.
Welcome back! The second half is about to get underway.
45' + 3'
There is the half-time whistle!
45' + 2'
Over the top! After a bit of pinball on the edge of the box Cartabia lashes a volley towards goal. He strikes it well enough but it lacks requisite dip to test Sommer.
45' + 1'
Xhaka and Stocker play an intricate one-two on the edge of the box and the former goes to ground under a challenge from Keita. He instantly claims he was fouled but the referee is unmoved, allowing play to continue.
There will be two minutes of added time at the end of this half.
Cracking defending from Sauro. The Argentine showed good pace to beat Feghouli to a ball down to the byeline, deflecting it out of play for a corner which Valencia fail to test Sommer from.
Having already conceded tonight, Valencia will not be able to set a new record of five consecutive clean sheets in the Europa League. They have some statuesque defending to blame for that.
Los Che's heads have dropped now, and Vargas fails to pick out Pereira's forward run on the right after two attempts. He has had minimal involvement so far and those poor passes will not do his confidence any good.
Assist Valentin Stocker
Goal Matias Emilio Delgado
GOOOOOOOOAL! Basel double their lead! Stocker flights in a fantastic cross from the left wing, bending the ball in behind Mathieu where Delgado is on hand to supply the finish. Valencia have crumbled!
Valencia have a brilliant chance to draw level almost immediately but Alcacer fails to make the most of Feghouli's excellent cross into the middle. He apologises to his team-mate, acknowledging that he should have done more.
Assist Philipp Degen
Goal Matias Emilio Delgado
GOOOOOOOAL! Finally we have the breakthrough! Valencia have been allowing Basel plenty of opportunities to shoot from range and it is Delgado who finally makes them pay for it. The Argentine drops into space at the top of the box and rifles a brilliant effort into the far corner, well out of the reach of Guaita.
There is no real urgency from either team at the moment, but los Che impressively work the ball from left to right. It gives Feghouli the chance to whip a cross into the box but he only manages to find the side netting of Sommer's goal.
A nice move from Basel sees David Degen cushion the ball down to Delgado in the centre of the box, but Mathieu once more reads it in an accomplished fashion. The Frenchman gets an important block to the Rotblau forward's effort and then kicks the ball to safety.
Los Che take a short free kick and Cartabia rifles it in low from the near side. Alcacer makes a decent darting run to the near post and gets a slight touch on the ball, however, he cannot alter it's direction enough to guide it past Sommer.
Stocker has seen plenty of the ball in the opening half an hour, but as of yet he has been unable to create anything meaningful. That could partially be due to Delgado dropping so deep and leaving the side without a central focal point to their attack.
Another shot from distance by Basel, this time from Serey Die, but his side-footed effort does not have enough power, or the direction, to beat Guaita - the keeper barely has to move in order to catch the shot.
SCHAR! The defender is not closed down quickly enough and he manages to get a shot away from distance. It bounces in front of Guaita but the keeper shows a solid pair of hands to hold onto the ball. Basel have been limited to shooting from range so far.
Keita has slotted in at centre-back for the time being, but he just spent a few seconds on the ground nursing a knock of his own. The Malian has returned to his feet, and Pizzi will be desperate for him to stay on the field.
Senderos just picked up a booking for a foul outside the opposition box and as he made his way back from the Basel half he pulled up and went to ground. He has now trudged off the pitch and his night looks to be over already. Valencia still managed to defend two corners without their imposing centre-back, though.
A quick thrown from Basel nearly catches the visitors out, but Mathieu follows Stocker as he races into the box and manages to block his cross into the middle. The Rotblau are awarded a corner.
Yellow Card Philippe Senderos
DIAZ! The Chilean peels off Parejo to find space 25 yards from goal. He turns with his first touch before spinning and arrowing an effort on target. He strikes it well but fails to pick out either corner, and Guaita gathers it at the second time of asking.
Delgado drops extremely deep to pick up the ball, and after receiving it he attempts a quick give-and-go with Aliji. Feghouli tries to track his run inside but he pulls the Basel man back as he gets away from him, so the referee awards a free kick.
STOCKER! The winger comes inside from the right, onto his favoured left foot, and he lets an effort on goal fly. He doesn't quite catch it right, though, and the ball bounces comfortably into the arms of Guaita.
Yellow Card G. Serey Die
Serey Die picks up the games first booking after diving into a tackle on Bernat. The left-back had interchanged with Cartabia brilliantly there, but the Ivorian brought their move to an end with that foul. He protests, but it's certainly the right decision.
Penalty claim for Basel! David Degen is released in behind the defence and has a fantastic opportunity to have a go at goal. He comes under late pressure from Senderos and goes to ground, making a complete hash of his chance. He thinks he was unfairly challenged, but it looked more like he had lost his footing.
DELGADO! Well over the top! The Argentine comes inside from the left and looks to bend an effort to the far corner but he lifts it well over the frame of the goal. Guaita left untested.
Cartabia has already drawn a couple of fouls on the far side, so if Valencia can keep supplying him with the ball then that will worry their opponents.
Valencia are beginning to find their feet now having interrupted the Rotblau's early possession play. However, so far we've seen little in terms of penetration from either side.
Valencia win their first free kick of the night after Cartabia is pulled to ground on the far side. Parejo whips a delivery into the box from the resultant set piece but Sommer comes out to claim it completely unchallenged.
Feghouli drifts inside and attempts to thread a pass between the two centre-backs for Alcacer. It almost runs through for the striker but Schar slides in to make an important interception.
The hosts are awarded a free kick 30 yards out and Delgado clips it into the box. Guaita comes off of his line and his first action in the game is a positive one as he punches the ball to safety.
Basel are playing very confidently in the early stages, passing the ball around the field in an assured manner and holding onto possession. Yakin's side are playing some crisp football at the moment.
We are underway in Basel!
There is a slightly eerie feel to this as the teams make their way out of the tunnel with no Basel fans inside the stadium at all this evening. We are going to hear everything on the pitch tonight.
We are just under five minutes from kick off, with Basel looking to reach the semi-finals for the second successive season.
As a team, Valencia's form in European competition has been impressive too. Los Che are unbeaten in nine Europa League games since opening their group stage campaign with a 3-0 defeat to Swansea at the Mestalla. The Spanish outfit have won all of their five away games in the process too.
For fans of South American football, two members of Jorge Sampaoli's treble-winning Universidad de Chile side of 2011 go head-to-head tonight. Current Basel midfielder Marcelo Diaz supplied the creativity in that side, while his now-Valencia counterpart, Eduardo Vargas, provided the goals in attack. The on-loan forward was the top scorer in the 2011 Copa Sudamericana which the Chilean side won, and he is starting to rediscover some of that form with his new club.
Basel have only lost twice at home this season. One defeat came at the hands of Zurich in the league, while the other was courtesy of Schalke in the Champions League. Valencia have only won away to Swiss opposition once in three attempts, but they have never lost to a club from the central European nation.
Valencia substitutes: Jaume, Barragan, Salva Ruiz, Romeu, Michel, Piatti, Jonas.
Valencia (4-4-2): Guaita; Pereira, Senderos, Mathieu, Bernat; Feghouli, Keita, Parejo, Cartabia; Alcacer, Vargas.
Basel substitutes: Vailati, Dunki, Frei, Elneny, Embolo, Seferagic, Ajeti.
Basel (4-3-3): Sommer; P. Degen, Schar, Sauro, Aliji; Xhaka, Serey Die, Diaz; D. Degen, Delgado, Stocker.
VALENCIA TEAM NEWS: Javi Fuego misses out tonight due to suspension, while Diego Alves, Ricardo Costa, Victor Ruiz, and Jose Gaya are all out through injury. Jaume Domenech and Salva Ruiz are drafted in from the reserves to make up the numbers on the substitutes bench.
BASEL TEAM NEWS: Yakin is without Marco Streller, who has scored more goals in Uefa competitions than any other player in the quarter-finals with 23 strikes, and his usual deputy Giovanni Sio is suspended so Matias Delgado starts in attack. Marek Suchy misses out with a ban, while Ivan Ivanov and Behrang Safari are also unavailable. Fabian Frei is only fit enough for the bench.
The last time these two met was in the 2002-03 Champions League group stage. The pair played out a 2-2 draw in Switzerland before Valencia secured a 6-2 victory at the Mestalla in the return fixture. Current Basel coach Murat Yakin was among the scorers for the Bebbi in Spain.
Hello and welcome to tonight's LIVE play-by-play commentary on the Europa League quarter-final between Basel and Valencia. St. Jakob-Park is the destination tonight, but the game is to be played behind closed doors as punishment for incidents during the Rotblau's meeting with Salzburg in the previous round. My name is Tom Webber, and I will be guiding you through all the action.
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