Mohamed Salah’s Champions League dream dealt blow as Basel lose

Hatem Maher, Tuesday 21 Aug 2012

Mohamed Salah plays the full game but Swiss side Basel suffer a 2-1 home defeat by Romania’s CFR Cluj in the European Champions League play-offs

Mohamed Salah

Egypt’s Mohamed Salah may not be able to realize his dream of playing in the European Champions League group-stage after Swiss side Basel threw away their lead to lose 2-1 at home to Romania’s CFR Cluj in the first leg of the competition’s play-offs on Tuesday.

Striker Marco Streller put the hosts ahead with a superb bicycle strike on the stroke of halftime but Cluj rallied back in the second half to stun the home crowd.

Cluj’s Senegalese forward Pape Amodou Sougou made the most of some sloppy defending to score twice and give the Romanians a precious away victory.

Basel will have an uphill climb when they face Cluj away from home in the second leg next week. They will have to score at least two goals to stand a chance of qualifying for the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition.

Egypt’s winger Mohamed Salah, who was included in the Swiss side starting line-up, produced a superb display in the first half.

He released David Degen on 23 minutes with a deft through pass after making a darting run but the latter failed to score. A chipped pass from Salah seven minutes later found the unmarked Valentine Stocker at the far post but his header hit the side netting.

Salah squandered a golden opportunity to score in the 58th minute when he ran onto a neat long ball to break clear but he mis-controlled it with the goal at his mercy.

The Egyptian international has put in some impressive displays since joining Basel from Arab Contractors in the summer. He notched up his maiden goal in the team’s 2-0 league win over Lausanne Sports on Saturday and was named man of the match.

He said he wished to play in the Champions League group stage to catch the eyes of the continent’s high-profile clubs  but his aim looks far-fetched now.

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