Bastian Schweinsteiger’s dramatic late winner helped Bayern Munich come from behind to beat Basel 2-1 and cement its place atop Group E of the Champions League on Tuesday.
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The midfielder’s second goal came in the 89th minute when he volleyed home a Holger Badstuber free kick. Schweinsteiger’s first was from the spot in the 56th after Basel midfielder Benjamin Huggel brought down Thomas Mueller.
"It was important to get three points here," Schweinsteiger said. "Basel immediately took its first chance. From then on, it was difficult for us."
The result was cruel for Basel, which played surprisingly well against the defending Bundesliga champion, which began by showing more of the disappointing form that has left the team in ninth place in the German league this season.
Striker Alex Frei gave the Swiss side the lead in the 18th when he latched onto a clever heel pass from Marco Streller and curled the ball into the top corner. And Basel had chances to score more in front of 37,500 fans at St.-Jakob Park.
In the end, Bayern’s cool efficiency on set pieces proved the difference. The winner came when Badstuber sent his free kick past the Basel defense to the far post, where Schweinsteiger was able to twist his body and meet the ball with the inside of his right foot.
"It doesn’t matter if the goal comes in the 70th minute or the last," said Bayern goalkeeper Joerg Butt. "The victory was earned. We obviously couldn’t be pleased with the first half, but we were able to improve significantly in the second half."
The result means Bayern stays atop the group with six points from two matches. Basel is last with no points. Italian side Roma and Romanian side FC Cluj each have three points after Roma’s 2-1 win.
"This shows Bayern Munich’s class, that they can score in the deciding moment," said Basel’s Streller, who had a second-half header saved by Butt. "I think they also would have been satisfied with a draw."
Huggel, whose penalty led to Bayern’s equalizer, had no complaints.
"Mueller and I fought for the ball and we hacked legs at the same time," the Switzerland international said. "Maybe it was my foul, that I was too forceful with my leg. But it doesn’t help to debate it because the referee blew the whistle."
Basel coach Thorsten Fink, a Champions League winner as a player with Bayern in 2001, was more disappointed.
"It wasn’t cleverness, it was luck for Bayern," Fink said. "The loss hurts a lot. We had good goal chances and the team played well. The minimum of a draw would have been just."