Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League in extraordinary fashion, going down 2-1 away to Basle last night.
Goals from Marco Streller and Alexander Frei meant Phil Jones’s late consolation effort was worthless, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side was left to deal with the prospect of Europa League football, in the New Year.
United fielded a strong starting XI in the knowledge defeat would eliminate them from the competition and they started confidently; however Basel opened the scoring just nine minutes in.
An initial cross wasn’t dealt with, as Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling collided, leaving the latter on the floor with an apparent head injury, and Xherdan Shaqiri’s follow up cross was poorly dealt with by David De Gea in the United goal leaving Streller with the simple task to give Basle the lead.
The goal shocked United into action; however despite dominating the possession count, they failed to create any real chance of note in the first 25 minutes.
And when the chance came Manchester United’s way, the usually assured Wayne Rooney missed a guilt edged opportunity to level. Nani, who was United’s best and most consistent attacking threat through out, did brilliantly to find Rooney with a curling cross, only for the England centre forward to fail to make the appropriate connection with the goal gaping.
Rooney and Nani both missed presentable chances with Yann Sommer in the Basle goal denying the duo well.
A horrible looking fall resulted in Vidic being stretchered off just moments before half-time. He and the goal scorer Streller challenged for the ball and the United captain twisted his right knee in the collision and was in evident pain.
In the second half it was Basle who went the closest to scoring the games second goal as Frei saw his free-kick expertly saved by De Gea.
Manchester United nearly levelled in comical fashion, as again Nani did brilliantly on the right and his cross was volleyed against his own bar by Markus Steinhofer, with Ashley Young unable to finish score with the rebound.
With time running out on United’s Champions League campaign it was all but killed off with just six minutes remaining as Frei scored a second. Again a Shaqiri a cross was the source of the goal, as the youngster’s teasing delivery wasn’t dealt with by Smalling and Frei, lurking behind the defender, headed past De Gea.
A late header from Jones wasn’t enough, as the Red’s lost for the first and vital time in the group stage as the Swiss club celebrated an unlikely progression.
Sir Alex Ferguson will look back to the 3-3 home draw with Basel as the main reason why United didn’t qualify, after losing a 2-0 lead, however ultimately Manchester United didn’t deserve to progress from a group on paper they should have.