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Basel fail to rise to occasion

Thursday's fireworks were mainly off the pitch

(Keystone)

The people of Basel did their football team proud on Thursday, but the players were unable to return the favour. More than 33,000 fans turned out for the opening of the club's new stadium, but the ensuing match against Lausanne ended goalless.

The result was perhaps not too surprising, given Basel's recent record. Three matches into the championship round, Christian Gross's men are still looking for their first win and have yet to manage even a single goal.

Gross himself seemed keen to end that sterile run on Thursday, fielding an attacking line-up with no less than four strikers starting the match. But despite a promising start, Basel were unable to make the most of their opportunities.

The best of those early chances came from set pieces, most notably in the 20th minute when Hakan Yakin headed onto a Lausanne post following a Mario Cantaluppi corner.

The visitors made more of an impact in the second half, and it wasn't until the last 10 minutes that Basel were again able to surge forward. But despite the urgings of the sell-out crowd, Ivan Knez, Olivier Kreuzer and Yakin all missed further opportunities to produce a fitting finale.

Basel may now have the finest football stadium in Switzerland at their disposal, but the players will have to start living up to the splendour of their home furnishings if they're to climb off the bottom of the championship table.

Lausanne had much more reason to be cheerful on Thursday, coming away from a match almost everyone had wanted them to lose with a draw which lifted them to second place in the league.

St Gallen, Lausanne, Servette and FC Zurich are all now level on 23 points at the top of the table. With the championship chase shaping up to be one of the tightest in years, the new landlords of St Jakob Park will have to respond quickly if they're to avoid being left behind.

by Mark Ledsom


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