Late heroics down Basel
A HUGELY controversial second-half penalty proved key as Bayern Munich rode their luck to win 2-1 at FC Basel in the Champions League last night.
Basel, inspired by 18-year-old Xherdan Shaquiri and backed by a raucous crowd, led 1-0 with a beautifully crafted Alexander Frei goal until Bayern's Thomas Mueller went down in a seemingly innocuous tangle with Benjamin Huggel in the 56th minute.
The midfielder played the ball but the referee pointed to the spot -- to Basel's disbelief -- in an incident which may raise questions about the value of the two officials behind the goal being used on an experimental basis in the competition.
Oblivious to the deafening jeers, Bastian Schweinsteiger buried the spot kick and added insult to injury by creeping in at the far post to score an 89th-minute winner after being left unmarked at a free kick.
Basel coach Thorsten Fink, a former Bayern Munich player, chose not to criticise the decision.
"I didn't have a good view of it but there were two handball incidents where I thought we could have had penalties," he said. "I'm disappointed with this result."
Visiting coach Louis van Gaal preferred to praise his own substitutions in helping seal the win.
"The changes gave us more power, we put more pressure on them in the second half and we scored the two goals," said the Dutchman.
After a miserable month that saw Switzerland beaten 3-1 at home by England in a Euro 2012 qualifier and all three of their teams beaten in European competition two weeks ago, Swiss football needed a boost -- and for a while it looked like getting one.
After Basel's opener, Shaquiri came to life, tormenting the Bayern defence and forcing Joerg Butt to make several saves either side of half-time.
"We played really well, we fought and we represented Swiss football very well," said Fink.
Elsewhere, AS Roma and CFR Cluj have three points each after the Italians beat the Romanians 2-1 in Rome.