Basel hung on to a one goal lead for over an hour of their Champions League round of 16 first leg at home to Porto on Wednesday, though a late equaliser from Danilo ensured the game ended all square -- and that Porto head into the second leg with an away goal advantage.
Porto started the game on the front foot, with their high-pressing game forcing Basel into a string of errors when playing out from the back. However, it was the hosts who drew first blood in just the 11th minute, when an inch-perfect long-ball from midfielder Fabian Frei set Derlis González through to poke home against the run of play. It was to be the Paraguayan's first and last notable contribution of the match -- he went off injured minutes later -- but it was an extremely valuable one.
Despite suffering the shock of going behind, Porto continued to dominate possession, though the hosts stayed resolute at the back. Full-back Danilo went closest to netting an equalising goal, though his low long-range shot was tipped around the post by a diving Tomáš Vaclík. Porto did have a penalty appeal when Walter Samuel hauled Jackson Martínez down in the area, just past the half-hour, though the referee adjudged no foul to have been committed.
Porto thought they'd netted an equaliser within minutes of the second half kicking off (and so did the nigh-on 40,000 people in the stands at St. Jakob-Park). A corner was headed goalwards by centre-back Maicon, only to be parried by Vaclík into the path of Casemiro. The Real Madrid loanee promptly prodded home, only for the goal to be ruled out a whole two minutes after it had hit the back of the net, with the officiating team belatedly (and, it should be noted, correctly) acknowledging that a couple of the visitors' players had blocked Vaclík from an offside position.
The visitors continued in the ascendency, and just short of the hour Vaclík was forced into tipping Cristian Tello's low shot around the post. Minutes later Herrera threaded Martínez through on goal, though the Colombian's chipped effort finished on the roof of the net.
The clock ticked on and it looked increasingly like Porto wouldn't be able to convert their dominance into an equalising goal. However, with just over 10 minutes left Ricardo Quaresma's low cross was blocked in the area by the trailing arm of a sliding Samuel, prompting the referee to point to the penalty spot. Danilo promptly stepped up and slotted home for 1-1.
Basel: Vaclík; Safari, Samuel, Suchý, Xhaka; Frei, Elneny; Gashi (Hamoudi 83'), Zuffi, González (Callà 25'); Streller (Embolo 63').
Goals: González (11').
Porto: Fabiano; Sandro, Marcano, Maicon, Danilo; Óliver (Neves 68'), Casemiro, Herrera; Brahimi (Quaresma 61'), Martínez, Tello (Quintero 81').
Goals: Danilo (79').
1. Basel's defence is still impressive
A feature of Basel's play this season has been their excellent defensive positioning, and today was no different. Paulo Sousa has drilled this team perfectly, with his side capable of sitting deep for sustained spells soaking up plenty of pressure. They restricted the influence of Porto's key creative force Óscar Torres, with their central midfielders sticking to the young Spaniard like glue. They very almost built a victory on their solid defensive foundations, and will be kicking themselves to have thrown it away so late. Sousa's side will now have to play on the front foot in the second leg, and will have to risk leaving space for Porto to counter-attack into.
2. Ricardo Quaresma changed the game
Porto struggled to find space throughout most of the match; despite dominating possession, Julen Lopetegui's men rarely tested Tomáš Vaclík. They did have some success down the right, though Cristian Tello's end product was often lacking. However, Ricardo Quaresma's entry just past the hour completely changed things, with the former Barcelona and Chelsea man living up to his impressive pedigree by delivering consistently dangerous crosses into the penalty area. It came as no surprise that he won the penalty.
3. Taulant Xhaka is a match for Yacine Brahimi
Heading into this fixture, Algerian winger Yacine Brahimi was rightly billed as one of Porto's key attacking threats. He's an incredibly talented dribbler, and capable of tearing through defences at will. However, despite causing early problems for Basel's makeshift left-back Taulant Xhaka, the Albanian international recovered and turned in one of his side's most impressive individual performances, more than vindicating Paulo Sousa's decision to field him ahead of Philipp Degen on the right side of defence.