Real Madrid made sure of top spot in Group B with a 1-0 win in Basel as Cristiano Ronaldo moved into second place on the all-time Champions League scoring list. Just 24 hours after Lionel Messi moved three clear of Real Madrid legend Raul’s total of 71, with a hat-trick against APOEL, the current hero of the Bernabeu provided a reminder that he is closing in fast when he turned the ball in from six yards out after fine work from Karim Benzema. While disappointed in going down to defeat to the Champions League holders, Basel can at least take solace from the fact that a draw between the other teams in the group, Ludogorets and Liverpool means the Swiss champions know that a draw at Anfield in two weeks’ time will see them through to the last 16.
For Madrid, meanwhile this was an incredible 15th straight victory in all competitions. And, while it wasn’t nearly as emphatic as many of them, they still had a degree of comfort in Switzerland. There was little action of note early on, with Ronaldo and Gareth Bale providing comfortable saves for home goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik and Basel reduced to efforts from distance. Luca Zuffi had just fired one such strike from 25 yards harmlessly wide of the target just past the half-hour mark when Madrid injected a touch of quality to go in front. Benzema twice turned on the turbo down the left side of the box to beat a defender to the byline and pull the ball back for Ronaldo, whose clever moment got him ahead of his marker in the middle to allow him to side-foot home.
Ronaldo could have eaten away at Messi’s advantage further in the second half. Instead, he saw a trademark powerfully driven free-kick from distance just palmed wide by Vaclik, before later on he should have done better with a chance created by Bale that he slid against the post. That opportunity came just two minutes after Bale had himself rattled the woodwork with a powerful drive against the underside of the crossbar from a tricky angle on the left of the box.
Basel did have chances to make Madrid pay for only hitting the frame of the goal. Striker Breel Embolo did well to go round Raphael Varane in the box but his near-post show was saved by a diving Keylor Navas. And deep into injury time substitute Ahmed Hamoudi curled a shot wide of the target when presented with a good sight of goal on his left foot to ensure Basel will head to Anfield needing a point.