Raphael Wicky paid tribute to birthday boy Dimitri Oberlin after his stunning contribution in Basel’s 5-0 Champions League demolition of Benfica.
Basel had not won in the Champions League for almost three years, but they landed their biggest victory in the competition against Portuguese titleholders Benfica, and Oberlin was the star of the show on Wednesday.
Swiss Oberlin – celebrating his 20th birthday – won a penalty and scored twice, with his first goal drawing particular praise from Wicky after a lung-bursting 80-yard sprint.
“If we stood up well and defended crosses, they were relatively open – we knew that and two goals have emerged [on the counter-attack],” the head coach said.
“[Oberlin] was unbelievable. Dimitri defends the ball at his own post and then makes a mega sprint over 80 yards – and that is on his birthday!
“His first touch was not so good, but he’s got great acceleration and that’s why.”
Of Oberlin’s winding run to win the spot-kick, Wicky added: “That’s typical Dimitri. He just sees the gap and has the necessary pace – he is dangerous and difficult to stop.”
Michael Lang, who opened the scoring after an Oberlin-inspired break, believes this performance can give Basel the confidence to progress from Group A, which is headlined by Manchester United.
“If you win 5-0 against Benfica, you are going to have a better chance,” he added. “But there are still some tough games to play for us, such as against CSKA Moscow, which will not be easy.
“With such a performance, though, anything is possible.”