Basel edges past Cluj at home
A first-half goal by Federico Almerares lifted Basel to a 1-0 win against Cluj in the Champions League on Tuesday, and virtually assured the Swiss club of third place in Group E.
Almerares struck in the 15th minute, sliding in to shoot past Cluj goalkeeper Nuno Claro from eight meters (yards).
Cluj defender Felice Piccolo was sent off in the 88th minute for pushing Almerares to the ground while retrieving the ball.
Basel has six points with one match left, and a six-goal advantage in goal difference over Cluj, which is last with three points after four straight defeats.
Basel is likely to advance to the Europa League after AS Roma beat Bayern Munich 3-2 to take control of second place.
Bayern leads with 12 points and Roma has nine.
Basel completes its Group E program in Munich on Dec. 8, when Cluj hosts Roma in Romania.
Basel dominated the first half at St. Jakob Park, but got just one goal for its efforts.
Right-back Samuel Inkoom surged forward and the Ghana international's misdirected long-range shot went untouched through the penalty area to reach Argentine forward Almerares arriving the far post for a first-time finish.
Left-back Behrang Safari threatened in the 29th minute, but the Sweden international had two shots in the penalty area blocked by Cluj defenders.
Basel continued to have the majority of possession and was denied a second goal by the crossbar on the hour.
Midfielder Fwayo Tembo's deflected shot from 20 meters (yards) appeared to have beaten Claro but the 'keeper's trailing foot deflected the ball up to the frame of the goal, and the rebound eluded onrushing Almerares with the goal empty.
Claro's dived low to his left to push Gilles Yapi's 84th-minute shot to safety.