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FOOTBALL

Goalie’s save puts Basel vs. Spurs in Europa Cup

FC Basel’s goalkeeper Yann Sommer is the hero of the moment after saving a penalty kick awarded to Zenit St. Petersburg in Thursday night’s football match to send the Swiss team into the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

Goalie’s save puts Basel vs. Spurs in Europa Cup
FC Basel goalie Yann Sommer. Photo: UEFA

Basel went into the game with a two-goal advantage from the previous game in the best of two series.

But Zenit’s Axel Witsel headed the ball into the back of the net from a corner after 30 minutes creating high drama for the penalty kick awarded in the 86th minute.

Roman Shirokov failed to get the ball past Sommer who blocked the kick with his foot after diving the wrong way, to the delight of Basel fans.

The Swiss team was playing with just 10 men in freezing cold conditions after Mercelo Diaz received a red card from the referee.

“I am not the hero of the night,” Sommer modestly insisted at the end of the game.

“We played as a team.”

With the 1-0 result (2-1 in Basel's favour for the two games), the Swiss team is now set to play England's Tottenham Hostpurs.

This marks the third time the Basel team has made it into the final eight of a European football competition.

Previously the team made the quarterfinals of the 1973-74 European Cup and more recently the 2005-06 UEFA Cup, forerunner of the Europa League.

Basel found out on Friday afternoon that they will meet Spurs in the quarterfinals after a draw held at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, in the canton of Vaud.

Meanwhile, luck almost ran out for the Basel team on the return from Russia.

The Hamburg Airways Airbus 320 plane they were flying in was forced to return to the St. Petersburg airport after a technical problem with the landing gear.

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FOOTBALL

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame

A Swiss super fan who has shot to fame after images of him watching Switzerland’s win over France went viral told the media he was unaware of his viral fame - but that he was overwhelmed with the world’s attention.

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame
Image: Twitter.

Like most Swiss football fans, Luca Loutenbach’s Monday evening – highlighted by a surprise upset win over the current World Champions and tournament favourite France – went about as well as you could have expected. 

But while his side were putting on the pressure through late goals to push the game into extra time, Loutenbach’s image was being shared across the world. 

Two pictures of Loutenbach, juxtaposed from before and after Switzerland scored an equaliser in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time, were widely shared. 

The images were even shared by Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, who congratulated Switzerland and said the images summed up the beauty of football. 

On Tuesday, Loutenbach spoke with Swiss tabloid Blick to tell the story. He said he had no idea about the images as his phone had no reception in Romania – and only found out after the game. 

“I didn’t have a network during the game. But some fans around me were connected to the internet and quickly realized what was happening. What an incredible buzz!” said the man from the canton of Jura. 

While Switzerland have made it further than they have in their history in the tournament, Loutenbach is far from a bandwagon fan. He told Blick he’s seen around 50 national team games before. 

“It’s the most beautiful day in the history of Swiss football, let’s not be afraid of saying it. It is the accomplishment of the immense work of the ASF (Federation), of (coach) Petkovic and of the whole team” he said. 

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