Our worst fears were realized in Switzerland last night when United crashed out of the Champions League.
There`ll be no mote, this season, fantastic European nights at Old Trafford, just trashy Europa League nights which will do little to warrant any real enthusiasm from the support.
Not even the fact that Manchester City also dropped out of the Champions League can soften this bitter blow. From finalists to chumps in a few short months!
Team News – Sir Alex, without the services of Anderson, Carrick, Cleverley, Owen and Hernandez chose to be cautious in his approach only picking Rooney up front but packing the midfield with a five aimed at stopping Basel scoring. Surprisingly, Fletcher was only on the bench.
United – De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Park, Giggs, Jones, Young, Rooney, Nani
Subs – Lindegaard, Evans, Welbeck, Fletcher, Valencia, Macheda, Gibson
First Half – United got the action underway in an atmospheric arena and created the first wave of excitement when Park turned into the area and hooked a shot wide. Basel, attacking, took encouragement from a De Gea push away that wasn`t that convincing and were to go ahead soon after.
A cross came in from our right flank and De Gea tried to clear it with his feet but the ball fell invitingly for Streller to slot home. United may have pointed towards the stricken Smalling, who had caught an elbow form Vidic, as a reason to stop play, but the referee was having none of it.
Basel 1 United 0 (Streller – 9 minutes)
United responded well to going behind, Nani fired over from twenty-five yards and two corners, forced in quick succession; kept the pressure up. A poor clearance for the Basel keeper, Sommer, saw Nani fire wide.
Basel though were looking dangerous and Ferdinand was forced to clear a dangerous looking cross from Shaqiri. United responded with an effort from Nani that saw him dance through two defenders but the cross was too deep, that cross followed one moments earlier that saw Rooney and Park just unable to get that crucial touch that would have put United level.
Giggs played a great reverse pass that was picked up by Rooney but the keeper saved his shot. The Basel goal looked to be leading a charmed life. As half time approached Vidic picked up a knee injury that saw him substituted and Evans introduced. In the three minutes of stoppage time De Gea saved well from Shaqiri but United had it all to do in the second half.
Half Time – Basel 1 United 0
Second Half – United, knowing they had to get back on level terms, started the second half well. Giggs split the Basel defence with a fantastic ball but Rooney`s effort was just wide/ Sommer, having a decent game, saved well when Nani unleashed a shot from twenty-five yards out.
Basel weren`t sitting back either and when Stroller found Shaqiri his shot went wide. De Gea, trying t make up for his first half error, did well to tip a free kick from Frei over the bar and then, from a corner saved a header from Dragovic.
United forced two corners in quick succession but couldn`t breach the Basel rearguard but the home side had a remarkable escape, just past the hour mark when Steinhofer volley, acrobatically, against the underside of his own bar.
Sir Alex shuffled his pack introducing Welbeck for Young, who looked to be carrying some sort of injury.
United now had a hint of desperation about their play and Rooney saw an effort, from long range, go wide before, with nine minutes of normal time Sir Alex used his last throw of the dice by bringing on Macheda for Park.
Sadly, three minutes later, it was all but over when Basel doubled their lead. Shaqiri, a thorn in our side all night, delivered a cross deep into the box, Smalling lost his man and Alex Frei netted at the far post.
Basel 2 United 0 (Frei – 84 minutes)
With six minutes to go United mounted some kind of fight back but even though Jones reduced the arrears, tapping home through a sea of legs after a Macheda effort had hit the bar.
Basel 2 United 1 (Jones – 89 minutes)
Three minutes of stoppage time saw a lot of huffing and puffing but it wasn`t to be and United crashed out of Europe`s Premier competition.
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