Basel 0-4 Manchester City: Champions League – as it happened

City are as good as in the quarters after thrashing Basel on their own turf.

Jamie Jackson's match report

FULL TIME: Basel 0-4 Manchester City

Bar something very, very, very, very, very strange occurring in Manchester three weeks from now, City are in the quarter-finals of the European Cup for only the second time in their history. The second leg will be no more than a box-ticking exercise after this wonderful performance.


90 min: There will be two added minutes of this match, plus another 90 irrelevant ones at the Etihad in three weeks’time.

89 min: Serey Die is late on Gundogan, stepping on his toes. He’ll be booked. But for a second, it looks as though it’s going to kick off, as Gundogan responds in fury, briefly threatening to clock Serey Die. Players of both teams get in the way. Gundogan is booked as well. Considering the number of injuries he’s had, you can perhaps understand Gundogan’s short fuse, though in truth Serey Die’s challenge was clumsy rather than malicious.

Basel’s Serey Die clashes with Ederson.
Basel’s Serey Die clashes with Ederson. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters


87 min: Both teams appear to be playing out time. You can’t blame anyone. “Casual nods to Finnegans Wake in the MBM are what keep me paying my £0.00 a month to the Guardian,” writes Artie Prendergast-Smith. “Never change!”

85 min: Both sides make a change. Basel swap Elyounoussi for Bua, while City send on Danilo for Aguero.

84 min: Bernardo Silva slips a ball down the right for the overlapping Walker. The full back slams a low cross into the area. Aguero is lurking, but Vaclik drops on the cross to claim.

83 min: Aguero goes chasing after a ball down the inside right. Vaclik comes sliding out of his area, not sure why. He nearly confuses Lacroix, and lets in Aguero, but the defender takes control and mops up, denying Aguero a shot at an open goal.

82 min: Sane sashays down the left, swans inside, and has a shot from the edge of the box. The effort’s blocked. City have long had this match - and this tie - in the bag, but they keep on going in search of more reward. They are relentless.

Leroy Sane’s shot is blocked.
Leroy Sane’s shot is blocked. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters


80 min: Ageuro piles down the middle, with Sane on his left and Gundogan on the right. Only Frei is back for Basel. He attempts a one-two with Sane, and would be through on goal were it not for Sane’s poor return pass. Frei slides in to save the day. A corner, but it comes to nothing. That should have been number five. Ah well, nobody’s perfect.

78 min: The Basel fans have made a racket all night, despite it all, and continue to do so. It’s an impressive performance.

76 min: Riveros runs down the left, past Eve and Adam’s, and swerves a wild one miles over the bar from distance.

74 min: Sane goes a-snapping around Basel heels down the left. He wins a ball he had no right to win and tees up Aguero for a run down the wing. Aguero enters the area and slips the ball inside for Gundogan, rushing in and looking for his hat-trick. He belts a shot towards the bottom right, but Vaclik reads it well and smothers. Lovely play all round.

73 min: Aguero dances in from the right, nipping this way and that, past three challenges with ease. He slips the ball to the left, allowing Sane to enter the area. Sane can’t make space for a shot. But City have been quiet for a few minutes, so that’s a reminder of their potency.

71 min: Stocker is replaced by Ajeti.

69 min: And now a free kick for the home side, 30 yards out. Oberlin has a crack, sending the ball rising and swerving goalwards. Ederson stops it from creeping just under his bar. To be fair to Basel, they could have slipped into reputation-management mode. But they’re still going for it, just in case something happens for them.

68 min: But Basel can’t afford to miss decent chances. If they’re to retain even the smallest scrap of hope, they need to score next. First Stocker crosses from the left, and Oberlin misses a great chance, a close-range header at the far post. He heads down and lamely wide. Then Elyounoussi nips past Delph on the right and creams a shot straight at Ederson. He has a couple more swishes at goal, but nothing’s doing.

66 min: City step it up again, Walker making off down the right and pulling the ball back for Aguero, who can’t sort his feet out on the penalty spot. He tees one up for David Silva; the resulting shot from the edge of the box is high, wide and not very good. The sub can afford to warm up.

65 min: All a bit scrappy now. Understandably so, what with this tie being over.

63 min: City are able to give De Bruyne a rest. Off he comes, with David Silva taking his place. No shoddy switch of playmaker, huh.


62 min: Fernandinho has a dig from 25 yards. The ball flies harmlessly over the bar.

60 min: Stocker scoops down the middle and nearly releases Oberlin into the City box. Kompany comes across to hook clear. Seconds before, Delph had fallen over while clearing a simple ball on the Basel right, but Elyounoussi couldn’t take advantage of his momentary confusion.

59 min: Fernandinho is booked for a cynical clip on the ankle of Xhaka, who was driving through the centre circle. He doesn’t bother complaining.

58 min: Lang wins a corner for Basel down the right. A game of head tennis at the corner. City clear, but this is good pressure from Basel, who are yet to give up all hope, despite the scoreline.

57 min: Sane returns from injury, replacing Sterling.

56 min: City have given up chances, though. Oberlin is found in the City box down the right. He’s one on one with Ederson, albeit at a tight angle. He drags his shot across the front of the goal in going for the bottom left.

55 min: Stocker romps after a pass stroked down the left. He’s gently shepherded away from the ball by Otamendi. That was wonderful defending, as assured as his early charge on Oberlin was clumsy. Looking again at half time, that really did look like a penalty. But here we are now.

GOAL! Basel 0-4 Manchester City (Gundogan 53)

This is quite special. Aguero dribbles down the inside-right channel, drawing a couple of defenders before flicking the ball inside for Gundogan. The German midfielder takes a touch back to the right, then gently caresses a curler into the top right. That was placed with extreme delicacy. Such a beautiful finish. What a goal! And that’s without considering the power and poise of Ageuro’s dribble!

Ilkay Gundogan curls in the fourth.
Ilkay Gundogan curls in the fourth. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images


51 min: Sterling is sent racing clear of the Basel back line. But the ball’s bouncing around in the excited style, and he isn’t able to get it under proper control at any point as he enters the box. It’s like taking a big stupid dog for a walk. The ball spins behind Sterling, and he can’t get a shot away. He tries to lay off for Aguero, who is desperately trying to link up with the attack, but the pass is all wrong. A let-off for the home side.

49 min: And this is marvellous goalkeeping from Ederson. Elyounoussi, cutting in from the left, curls powerfully for the top right from distance. The ball’s perhaps going an inch wide, but the City keeper’s not to know that, and turns it around the post wonderfully. The resulting corner doesn’t come to much, but this is better from Basel, who will surely have been reminded at half time that they actually started the first half strongly.

48 min: Lang races down the right in the hope of beating Delph to the ball. If he does, Basel will be two on one, with Oberlin in close attendance. But Delph slides in to hook the ball away. Marvellous defending.

47 min: City knock it around for a bit. Then Gundogan drifts in from the left and lays off for De Bruyne, who sends a vicious riser towards the top right from 20 yards. Good handling by Vaclik; that’ll have warmed the gloves.

And we’re off again! City get the ball rolling for the second half. No changes.

Half-time jobs: Take out the rubbish, load the dishwasher, make yourself a cup of tea, sign up for The Recap.

HALF TIME: Basel 0-3 Manchester City

The thing is, City could have easily conceded a goal or two in the early exchanges, a period that included a strong penalty shout for Basel. But - hold the front page - they’re an extremely good football side. Give them a sniff, and they’ll rattle in a few precious away goals. Which is exactly what they’ve done. More to come in the second half? You wouldn’t bet against it, would you.


45 min: De Bruyne tries to release Sterling down the left with a first-time, long-range, sweeping pass in the centre circle. Not quite, it’s intercepted. But what vision.

43 min: Serey Die is very lucky to escape a booking, lunging in on De Bruyne in the out-of-control style. He won the ball, but his studs were showing and he was flying through the air in a hysterical manner. The ref opts to give him a lecture, nothing more.

41 min: BREAKING NEWS. Kevin De Bruyne misplaces a pass. Pep out!

40 min: City stroke it around in the clock-massaging style. The home fans are still giving it plenty, which is good going all considered.

38 min: Xhaka is booked for a preposterous rugby tackle on Sterling. He’s livid with the decision, I have no idea why, it’s as obvious a booking as you’ll ever see. Sterling was carrying him on his back like a bag of spuds for a while there. Also, Xhaka will now miss the second leg, which is probably no bad thing for him personally, the way this is panning out. All in all, he should probably simmer down.

Basel’s Taulant Xhaka attempts some sort of tackle against Raheem Sterling.
Basel’s Taulant Xhaka attempts some sort of tackle against Raheem Sterling. Photograph: Georgios Kefalas/EPA


37 min: Delph zips down the left, then hooks the ball back for De Bruyne on the edge of the box. De Bruyne sends a screeching dipper inches over the bar, the keeper beaten all ends up. So close to number four. It’ll be something of a surprise if City don’t chalk that one up soon, the way this is going.

36 min: Aguero drifts in from the left, then lays off to Gundogan, who wedges further infield with a view to releasing Silva down the middle. Not quite. But City are looking dangerous in pretty much every attack.

34 min: Sterling scampers into the Basel box down the inside-right channel. He’s after the ball, but Vaclik comes out and denies him with a brave spread. Sterling tries to round him but makes do with a corner that leads to nothing.

Raheem Sterling is denied by Basel’s Tomas Vaclik.
Raheem Sterling is denied by Basel’s Tomas Vaclik. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters


32 min: Eh, not quite. They stroke it around hither and yon. All very pretty. Then De Bruyne drops deep down the right and tries to release Walker into the area with a sliderule pass. There’s a joule too much energy on the ball. Vaclik gathers. Pep out!

31 min: Frei spots Riveros in space out on the left. He finds his team-mate with a fine raking pass but City press up high in the style of George Graham’s Arsenal and the Basel man is caught offside. Everything City try is coming off right now.

29 min: Ederson, the ball at his feet, is pressed back by the lively Oberlin. But he’s got ice in the veins, and he drops a shoulder to escape trouble and strokes a pass away from danger. He’s so entertaining to watch. When you’d buy tickets just to watch the keeper, you know you’ve got a team.

27 min: The Basel fans are rallying courageously. Plenty of noise still. And it’s not as though their team have given up: Suchy and Oberlin go after Gundogan, pressing him back down the Basel left, but can’t quite nick the ball and launch an attack on goal. That’s good pressing, though, especially as this already seems something of a lost cause for the Swiss.

25 min: Wow! Thing is, Basel could easily have had a goal or two themselves. And they had a decent penalty shout before City’s first. What a strange opening quarter this has been.

GOAL! Basel 0-3 Manchester City (Aguero 23)

This is too easy. Though this is another sensational goal. Fernandinho wins a ball he had no right to win, 40 yards from goal. He drives with great purpose down the inside left. He’s tackled, but the ball breaks to Aguero, 25 yards out. He threads a low fizzer towards the bottom left. And in it goes, past a rooted Vaclik. The keeper didn’t move an inch. It should be said, the Basel keeper isn’t covering himself in glory here.

Too easy for City as Sergio Aguero fires in the third.
Too easy for City as Sergio Aguero fires in the third. Photograph: Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images


21 min: The City fans are making some noise, as you’d imagine. Nearly as much as when they were giving the Champions League anthem the bird. Uefa are going to love them at the final. If, etc., and so on.


20 min: Again Basel respond to conceding by nearly scoring, Elyounoussi sending a shot towards the bottom left from distance. It’s deflected round the post. The corner leads to some head tennis, but eventually the flag goes up for offside.

GOAL! Basel 0-2 Manchester City (Silva 18)

De Bruyne sends Sterling skittering down the left. He reaches the byline and loops into the centre for Bernardo Silva, level with the right-hand post, ten yards out. Silva chests down then sends a looper towards the top left. Vaclik gets fingertips to the lob, but can only help it into the net.

Bernardo Silva celebrates his team’s second goal.
Bernardo Silva celebrates his team’s second goal. Photograph: Simon Hofmann/Getty Images


17 min: City are leading, but Pep isn’t happy with his team. He’s on the touchline throwing semaphore shapes in the hectic style. Although this might cheer him up ...

15 min: Basel nearly equalise immediately, Elyounoussi quarterbacking from deep and releasing Stocker down the middle! He should probably reach the ball on the edge of the box before Ederson, but goes into the challenge half-arsed. City clear again, but they are giving up good chances.

GOAL! Basel 0-1 Manchester City (Gundogan 14)

This is as simple as they come, but so good. City earn a corner down the left. De Bruyne whips the cross towards Gundogan, ten yards out and level with the left-hand post. Gundogan flicks a high-speed header into the top left, Vaclik rooted to the spot, no man on the post. Easy! Great delivery, great header. But dreadfully defended.

Ilkay Gundogan flicks a header into the top left.
Ilkay Gundogan flicks a header into the top left. Photograph: Craig Mercer/CameraSport/Getty Images


12 min: Oberlin drops a shoulder to whizz past Otamendi, just inside the City box on the right. The pair come together, and the striker goes down. Otamendi didn’t really make much effort to play the ball, but Oberlin was looking for it. A shoulder charge which was just about side on. No penalty. Still, you’ve seen them given. Otamendi treading a fine line there. And of course the home fans are furious.

10 min: Otamendi miscues under a long ball in the centre circle. On another day, that would have clanked towards the feet of the speedy Oberlin, putting City in all sorts of light-at-the-back trouble. But the defender gets away with the mistake. This won’t end goalless, I’ll be bound.

9 min: City calm things down a little by stroking it around the middle of the park awhile. They’re establishing a semblance of control, which will please Pep no end.

7 min: The ludicrously open start to this match continues apace, as Aguero nearly manages to latch onto a Lacroix clearance sliced straight into the air. But not quite. Less than ten minutes gone, and both teams could easily be on the scoresheet.

6 min: More rank City defending as Lang hammers a long ball down the inside-left channel from deep. He’s released Oberlin on goal! Ederson races out of his area. Oberlin tries to poke the ball past the keeper from the edge of the box, but gets little purchase on the shot and Walker can intercept long before it rolls anywhere near the goalline.

5 min: Stocker is set free down the right by a quick throw. City are a little bit sleepy at the back again, and the Basel winger has space to romp into. He rolls a pass down the flank to Serey Die, but the pair aren’t on the same wavelength and the move peters out.

3 min: Again the set piece isn’t up to much, but again City keep the pressure on the hosts with another wave of attack. Sterling presses down the left this time, but he receives the ball in an offside position and the hosts can finally breathe again.

2 min: Nothing much comes of the set piece. But City are coming back at Basel in short order, Silva coming down the right again. His cross is met by Gundogan, whose header towards the top right from 12 yards is tipped over the bar by Vaclik. Another corner.

1 min: Within ten seconds or so, Stocker is making good down the inside right. He reaches the corner of the City box, and he’s got Oberlin in the middle. City are a little light at the back, but Kompany gets over to crowd him out. Then City go up the other end, Silva chasing a long ball down the right. He earns an early corner.

A friendly handshake between managers Raphael Wicky and Pep Guardiola on the touchline ... the swapping of pennants in the centre circle by captains Marek Suchy and Vincent Kompany ... a blast of the whistle ... and we’re off! The hosts get the game underway. The Champions League is back, and we’re at the business end of the tournament. The serious stuff begins now.

Pep Guardiola at St Jakob-Park.
Pep Guardiola at St Jakob-Park. Photograph: Simon Hofmann/Getty Images


The teams are out! Basel are in their traditional RotBlau shirts, a striking combo said to have inspired Barcelona’s blaugrana clobber. Manchester City wear their famous sky-blue tops. There’s a wonderful atmosphere at St Jakob-Park, despite the freezing temperature. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes, once the Uefa-directed butchering of Zadok the Priest is out of the way.

Pep Guardiola speaks! “We have done well so far [in the Premier League and League Cup] but this is another competition and every game is tough because of the quality of the players and many, many, many other reasons. We are here with confidence to go through, but we know exactly what can happen if we are not at our level. Last season is last season: we played a really good team in Monaco, they reached the semis and won the league in France. We will try to get a good result!”

Pre-match reading: It’s the time of the season when fans allow their hopes and dreams to run amok. And why not. Here’s how supporters of the 16 remaining Champions League clubs see things panning out.


Basel make three changes to the side that won 2-0 at Thun last weekend. Blás Riveros and Léo Lacroix come into the defence, while Fabian Frei steps into midfield. Defenders Éder Balanta and Raoul Petretta, and striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel, miss out.

Manchester City make two changes to the team sent out to thrash Leicester City 5-1 on Saturday night, both in defence. Aymeric Laporte is replaced by captain Vincent Kompany, while Oleksandr Zinchenko makes way for Fabian Delph. And on the bench, Leroy Sané returns from injury!


The teams

Basel: Vaclik, Lang, Xhaka, Lacroix, Suchy, Riveros, Elyounoussi, Frei, Die, Stocker, Oberlin.
Subs: Salvi, Zuffi, van Wolfswinkel, Ajeti, Manzambi, Petretta, Bua.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Delph, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling.
Subs: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Laporte, Sane, Silva, Foden.

Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden).


Basel have caused English teams one or two problems over the years, ever since beating Sheffield Wednesday in the 1995 Intertoto Cup. They knocked Ged Houllier’s Liverpool out of the Champions League in 2002 with a 29-minute three-goal blast. They bundled Manchester United out of the groups in 2011, during an era when United used to reach the final pretty much every season. They did for Spurs in the quarters of the Europa League in 2013. Chelsea were defeated in the Champions League groups in 2013 by Mo Salah - whatever happened to him? - while Liverpool were knocked out of the groups again, this time with Brendan Rodgers at the helm - in 2014. Basel also inflicted an embarrassing defeat on Manchester United in the groups last November.

Otherwise, history is not on their side. This is Basel’s third appearance in the Round of 16, and they’ve never got any further in the Champions League. In 2012, they beat Bayern Munich 1-0 at home, only to lose the second leg 7-0. Three years later, they drew 1-1 at home with Porto, only to fall to another heavy second-leg defeat, going down 4-0 in Portugal. And despite beating United at St Jakob-Park three months ago, their recent home record is not promising: they’ve lost three of their last five European fixtures on their own turf, and won only three of their last ten. The conclusion? A good performance tonight by Pep Guardiola’s brilliant quadruple-chasing Manchester City should be enough settle this tie.

It’s never that simple, of course, and City have a questionable record at this stage themselves. They’ve played in four previous Round of 16 ties, losing to Barcelona twice, in 2014 and 2015, and Monaco last year. Their sole success at this level is a 3-1 aggregate win over Dynamo Kyiv in 2016, the year they went on to make the semis. But it’s all good experience, and while City are romping away with the Premier League this year, Basel trail Young Boys of Bern in the Swiss Super League. City are strong favourites tonight. It’s on!

Kick off: 8.45pm in Basel, Switzerland; 7.45pm back home.