Chelsea fell to a first home defeat in the Champions League group stages for a decade, having surrendered the lead against a dogged Basel side.
Oscar had put Chelsea in front with his second goal of the season at the end of a first half in which we had been the better team but struggled to create chances.
The Brazilian, who scored six times in Europe last season, five in this competition, got off the mark with a precise low finish to put us in control, and midway through the second almost doubled the lead when his curling shot hit the crossbar.
There were other chances too, notably for Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic, before Basel struck level against the run of play through the impressive Mohamed Salah, and then took the lead with 10 minutes remaining with a Marco Streller header. It was a kier blow that came too late for the Blues to respond, and so we begin our European campaign with a defeat few outside Switzerland would have predicted.
Jose Mourinho handed Willian a debut, the Brazilian making his first appearance since arriving from Anzhi Makhachkala, while Samuel Eto’o made his home debut up front, keeping his place from the 1-0 defeat at Everton on Saturday.
John Terry was rested, so Frank Lampard captained the side with Gary Cahill returning in central defence alongside David Luiz. There was also a first start for Marco van Ginkel in the middle of midfield.
Basel dropped former Liverpool defender Philipp Degen, with Behrang Safari coming in to their defence.
it was Van Ginkel who first caught the eye, his sliding challenge abruptly ending a promising Basel counter, but it was Chelsea who looked the more potent against a side beaten twice last season in the Europa League.
Visiting goalkeeper Yann Sommer was only called into action after a quarter of an hour, however, when he flapped at a cross under pressure from Eto’o and was fortunate to be given a free-kick as a scramble ensued in the Basel area.
Salah escaped the attentions of Ashley Cole at the other end shortly afterwards, but the winger’s low cross was well intercepted by Cahill before any damage was done.
Lampard and Eden Hazard both shot off target from distance as Basel’s well organised side proved difficult to penetrate and grew steadily into the game. Salah managed to run clear again, but slowed by David Luiz, he eventually curled over the bar, somewhat wastefully. Petr Cech then had to save from Giovanni Sio, who had tried his luck from long range.
As the half wore on, Chelsea had offered less and less of a threat, so it was surprising to see us take the lead just before the break. David Luiz took control of the ball in midfield and fed Lampard, who picked a subtle pass into the box for Oscar to compose himself and fire low into the bottom corner. It was a simple goal, and in a stroke undid all the Swiss side’s good work so far, allowing Mourinho’s men to go in rather more pleased with their evening’s work at the halfway point.
A year ago this week Oscar announced himself to Chelsea fans with a wicked, bending goal against Juventus, and having reopened his Champions League account already, he sought to repeat that strike, whipping his shot across Sommer but this time seeing it cannon back into play of the crossbar.
A minute later the 22-year-old worked himself a yard in a similar area, and was close again, this time watching it bounce just wide after taking a deflection, Ivanovic’s header was claimed by the goalkeeper from the resulting corner.
Just after the hour mark Oscar turned creator as he played an inspired pass across the Basel box to find Hazard, who in turn failed to find the target, shooting way over the bar into the Matthew Harding end.
Basel forward Streller had barely had a kick in attack so far, but proved important to his side in defence when he stretched to divert another Ivanovic set-piece header over the bar. Lampard had supplied the cross from wide.
Willian’s first outing came to an end after 66 minutes as Mourinho introduced Juan Mata with Chelsea well in command. The Spaniard came inside with Oscar switching to the right. Willian had provided a solid performance, with plenty to whet the appetite.
Before Mata had a chance to bring his own creative influence to the game, Basel drew level with a fantastic goal out of the blue. Chelsea looked solid as the visitors came forward, but as the ball changed directions quickly on the edge of the area, Streller was able to play a first-time pass right to Salah, and the Egyptian found Cech’s bottom right-hand corner with an excellently struck finish from 15 yards.
As soon as was possible, Mourinho opted to make further changes. Lampard and Van Ginkel went off, John Mikel Obi and Demba Ba came on, the latter to become the central striker with Eto’o moving left after a frustrating night down the middle.
More pain was to follow though. Salah countered once more, his pace having been a consistent menace, and his pull-back found Streller, whose shot was deflected behind. From the corner, the forward managed to get ahead of his marker Cahill at the near post, glancing the ball beyond Cech to give his side an unlikely lead to defend for the final 10 minutes.
Now Chelsea really had to chase the game, but it meant more gaps at the back, and Salah once more pulled back, this time for Marcelo Diaz, who should have done better with his finish.
Oscar did manage one shot on target, bringing a simple save from Sommer with a too-straight drive, and the goalkeeper made a late stop from Eto’o, but there would be no equaliser, meaning work to do in Bucharest in a fortnight. This was just Jose Mourinho’s second defeat at Stamford Bridge, and it will not have gone down well with the manager, who at Goodison Park on Saturday bemoaned a series of missed chances.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Cole; Van Ginkel (Mikel 75), Lampard (c) (Ba 75); Hazard, Oscar, Willian (Mata 66), Eto’o.
Unused substitutes: Schwarzer, Terry, Azpilicueta, De Bruyne.
Goals Oscar 44
Booked Van Ginkel 41
Basel (4-4-1-1): Sommer; Voser, Schar, Ivanov, Safari; Salah (Xhaka 87), Diaz, Frei, Stocker (Ajeti 81); Sio (Delgado 64); Streller.
Unused substitutes: Vailati, P Degen, D Degen, Sauro.
Goals Salah 70, Streller 80
Booked Diaz 63
Referee Daniele Orsato (Italy)