Fightback leads to magnificent win.
Newcastle United are on a roll - a Swiss role and didn't the Toon Army go crackers in the St Jakob-Park Stadium last night?
For make no mistake about it, even by United's exploits in Europe in recent times this was some performance and result by Sir Bobby Robson's side.
Twice a battling United came back from being behind against a side which has won 15 out of 16 games in the Swiss League this season.
They had to do it against a background of noise which we had been warned about but, nevertheless, was deafening.
Surely there wasn't anyone with Newcastle connections who wouldn't have settled for a 2-2 draw as Robson's side reeled early on in the game.
However, United rallied and in the end claimed what can only be described as a magnificent victory.
Certainly both defences wobbled in an amazing first 15 minutes but while United - inspired by Titus Bramble - closed ranks, Basel continued to struggle against a lively visiting front line.
However, victory seemed a million miles away as Basel hammered Robson's side early on and indeed there were only 37 seconds on the clock when the manager was out of his dug-out and bellowing instructions to his defence.
This made no difference as poor defensive work led to two Basel goals in the first 15 minutes, from Cantaluppi and Chipperfield. The first was reminiscent of the super Dynamo Kiev opener in Ukraine last season as the ball flew past Shay Given from 30 yards out.
But, fortunately for United, squeezed in between the Basel goals was a well-worked, brilliantly executed equaliser from Laurent Robert.
United's second equaliser may not have been so pretty when Bramble pounced and drove in from eight yards out, but it gave Robson's boys plenty to play after the break.
And if the first half ended all square, there was no doubting United's superiority in the second, when the Basel defence struggled against the strength and skills of Shola Ameobi. Robert had started the game wearing a natty pair of mitts but at this stage the gloves were off and, while Basel always looked dangerous, United always looked the more likely to win the match.
And no-one on Tyneside will mind that when the winner came it was courtesy of a bad mistake from Basel's Cameroon international left-back Thimothee Atouba.
Nobby Solano intercepted a terrible pass from Atouba but Ameobi still had plenty to do before he screwed in United's 75th-minute winner.
The young United striker ran to the Toon Army to milk the applause for a winner which should be good enough to take the club into the third round of the UEFA Cup.
It was actually Ameobi's seventh goal for United in Europe and only four players - Alan Shearer, Wyn Davies, Bryan Robson and Tino Asprilla have scored more for the club.
Ameobi's still only 22 years of age and today he was left to reflect that he had scored the winner for United in a major European competition.
But last night wasn't about one man - but a magnificent United performance and result.
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Nov 7, 2003|
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