Almerares keeps Basel hope alive
© AFP

Frederico Almerares scored the only goal to keep Basel's hopes of qualification from UEFA Champions League Group E alive. The striker netted 14 minutes into the first half against a Cluj side that rarely threatened the home goal at St Jakob Park.

In the first minute Basel midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri's long-range left-foot shot was off target. Cluj's Juan Emanuel Culio should have done better after three minutes as he opted to chest down rather than head a cross but the ball dropped to goalkeeper Franco Costanzo.

Fourteen minutes in, and a minute after being booked, Almerares got on the end of a low shot from Samuel Inkoom to open the scoring. Inkoom had shaped to shoot from distance but scuffed his effort across goal and Almerares got behind his marker to shoot under Nuno Claro.

Within two minutes Basel could have been further ahead after Almerares worked space inside the area and passed to Frei but his shot was blocked by Ionut Rada and Felice Piccolo cleared off the line. Almerares was then gifted another chance on 20 minutes when a poor clearance fell to him but he fired over the bar. Rafael Bastos had Cluj's first real effort after nearly 35 minutes but following a strong run from his own half he shot well over from distance.

Culio won a free-kick when he was blocked by Inkoom but his set-piece was headed clear and Bastos shot over as the visitors opened the second half with more purpose.

Basel were then denied just before the hour when a shot from Fwayo Tembo was deflected onto the bar by Nuno Claro's foot. A minute later the Cluj keeper kept out Frei's shot with his foot and was then drawn out of his area but Tembo's cross was cleared.

Frei thought he had doubled the lead with 16 minutes to go but he was flagged offside on the edge of the six-yard area as he steered a shot from Tembo past Nuno Claro. A demoralised Cluj side, who created little to speak of, played the last two minutes with 10 men after Piccolo was show a red card after pushing over Almerares.