Crusaders finish Europa first-leg tie down by two goals against 10-man Basel

Crusaders suffered a two-goal setback in Switzerland despite a spirited performance against 10-man Basel across the Europa Conference League.

By Patrick Van Dort
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 12:34 am

Having secured a dream date with a Basel club rich in modern history including regular appearances at the elite-level Champions League stage, the Crues head home down by 2-0.

It proved another European performance of pride and passion by the Irish League outfit ahead of next Thursday’s home tie at Seaview.

That first-leg reverse arrived despite the hosts at St Joseph-Park losing Taulant Xhaka to a red card just past the half-hour mark.

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Xhaka’s dismissal for two bookable offences came on 33 minutes.

However, the deficit on the field lasted fewer than four minutes before Crusaders had to react to a deficit on the scoresheet.

Basel broke the deadlock when Dan Ndoye steered a shot beyond Jonny Tuffey.

The initial exchanges proved competitive as Basel pushed for the upper hand but Ben Kennedy forced the home goalkeeper into one save before Crues shot-stopper Jonny Tuffey had to be alert.

Billy Joe Burns and Chris Hegarty produced key defensive contributions before the tie turned around a red card and first goal.

Tuffey made an early second-half save but Basel managed to double the advantage with a clever and clinical backheel finish by Adam Szalai.

Basel created additional openings and attempts both wide and high.

Kennedy then came close to finding Paul Heatley in a promising position before the Crues had to survive the risk of an own goal.

Crusaders had one header wide off a corner-kick late on and a Kennedy free-kick caused problems for goalkeeper Marwin Hitz.

But Tuffey and Hegarty combined to keep the deficit at two goals before Johnny McMurray’s header forced Hitz into a fine save.

One late header proved just off target and Hitz was on hand to deny McMurray in the closing moments.

Basel: Hitz, Sergio-Lopez, Comas (Males, 76), Pelmord, Padula, Frei Xhaka, Burger, Ndoye (Amdouni, 67), Szalai (Millar, 67), Ltaief (Tushi, 81).

Subs (not used): Salvi, De Mol, M.Lang, Djiga, Hunzikwe, Chipperfield.

Crusaders: Tuffey, Hegarty, Burns, O’Rourke, Larmour, Clarke (McMurray, 76), Kennedy, Lowry, Heatley, Winchester (Weir, 75), Forsythe.

Subs (not used): Pauley, Lecky, Ebbe, Patterson, Owens, McKeown, Robinson, Barr, Morrow.

Referee: A.Kourgheli.