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 Tuesday, November 5, 2002 16:14 EST

Swiss club records first-ever win on Russian soil


MOSCOW -- Basel moved a step closer to the Champions League second phase with a deserved 2-0 win at Spartak Moscow in their rearranged Group B match on Tuesday.

The Swiss side moved into second place behind Valencia, who has already qualified, and one point ahead of Liverpool, who the team meets in its final group game next week. A draw against Liverpool would be enough to take Basel through.

Spartak, who had hoped to end a 15-game winless streak in Europe, has now lost all five of its group matches.

The Russian champions, who could have maintained a slim chance of securing a UEFA Cup berth with a victory, pushed forward from the opening whistle.

But striker Hernan Rossi silenced a small but vocal home crowd when he put Basel ahead in the 17th minute, scoring against the run of play.

The Argentine beat Spartak's Brazilian playmaker Moises Pineiro to the ball as he latched on to a low cross from Herve Tim and squeezed it past goalkeeper Maxim Levitsky from close range.

With temperatures dipping below freezing and light snow falling after the interval, the Swiss side was content to defend in numbers in the second half.

Spartak had only a handful of scoring chances in the entire match. Alexander Danishevsky, who scored Spartak's lone goal in this season's competition in a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool two weeks ago, wasted the best chance of an equalizer.

The 18-year-old striker fired over the bar from six meters late in the game before Christian Giminez, who replaced fellow Argentine Rossi midway through the second half, sealed Basel's first victory on Russian soil with a second goal a minute from time.

"We played very well today and deserved to win," Basel coach Christian Gross said.

"I usually don't like to make predictions but I think we have a very good chance of making the second round of the Champions League."

Spartak assistant coach Viktor Samokhin was disappointed.

"We dominated in the second half but once again we paid the price for making too many mistakes in defense," he said.

Tuesday's match was played amid heavy security after Chechen guerrillas took more than 800 people hostage in a city theater in the Russian capital two weeks ago.

It was initially scheduled for last Wednesday but was delayed a week by UEFA as a mark of respect for more than 100 hostages, who died in an operation to storm the building. It was rescheduled for a second time following consultations with both clubs.

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