A crowd of over 19,000 saw Young Boys breath life into the Swiss Super League title race as they handed champions FC Basel a first defeat this season following an entertaining 4-3 win. Miralem Sulejmani and Alexander Gerndt were the chief tormentors scoring two goals a piece.
Sulejmani, who was a major flop at Ajax after being made their record signing, opened the scoring five minutes in when his initial cross rebounded back at his feet and his shot was too hot for Basel goalkeeper Vaclik to handle. The visitors hit back midway through the first half when the much sought-after Breel Embolo poked the ball home at the far post via Hadergjonaj. Serbian winger Sulejmani restored Young Boys’ lead on the stroke of half-time when he sped past Aliji and beat Vaclik with a fine shot, arrowed into the bottom corner from just outside the box. Basel had just suffered a blow losing playmaker Delgado to a thigh injury.
Young Boys extended their lead just after the hour when Gerndt deftly backheeled a cross from Renato Steffen into the net. 3-1 and Basel were staring down the barrel of defeat for the first time in ten league encounters. They hit back with fiften to go when Mark Suchy volleyed home from a Kuzmanovic free kick. The home nerves were settled in bizarre circumstances. A long, hopeful punt forward was allowed to bounce and meeting the ball at the edge of the box, Gerndt beat the onrushing Vaclik to the ball which rolled into the vacant goal after the Swedish striker came off worse in the inevitable collision.
The giant Austrian Marc Janko pulled a goal back in stoppage time after a clever turn inside the area but it was too little, too late even though YB had seen Jan Lecjaks (he of the spectacular own goal fame) sent off for a second yellow. The temperamental Taulant Xhaka was red carded for violent conduct after full time to cap an all-action night at the Stade de Suisse. Xhaka has since been banned for four games.
Basel aren’t invincible after all. Ex-Helsingborg man Gerndt was hugely impressive up front and his work rate whilst leading the line means he fits the current system better than the more traditional target-man Guillaume Hoarau who finds himself on the bench. Young Boys boss Adi Hütter was right to call the game a spectacle in his post-game comments and the Austrian has made a good start to life in Bern.
Earlier, Grasshopper bounced back from their shock cup elimination to beat cup holders FC Sion 2-0, thus closing the gap with Basel to four points. Caio hit the woodwork twice at the weekend but he made no mistake on 34 minutes, nutmegging Sion ‘keeper Vanins.. GC’s leading scorer Munas Dabbur turned provider on the night, setting up both goals ; the second came fifteen minutes from the end. Dabbur latched on to a through ball which drew Vanins out of his goal and though the shot wasn’t on, he kept his head and laid the ball off for Yoric Ravet to fire home.
The final game saw bottom FC Vaduz throw away a 1-0 lead to lose at home to FC Luzern. Simone Grippo rose high to head the Liechtenstein outfit ahead at the end of the first half. Luzern coach Markus Babbel then decided to introduce Samed Yesil, on loan from his former club Liverpool and the move paid dividends. Yesil and Marco Schneuwly combined on the counter attack and with a touch of good fortune, the latter equalised. The game hung in the balance until five minutes from the end when centreback François Affholter helped a corner home from three yards.
Luzern’s comeback win has since been marred by the news that the league’s top scorer Dario Lezcano has been handed an eight-game ban for assaulting a referee last weekend. With nine goals in just eight appearances, he has taken the league by storm this year and been called up for Paraguay. Schneuwly and Yesil will now have to shoulder the goalscoring burden.