Manchester United escaped their Champions League group C clash against FC Basel with a 3-3 draw after losing a two-goal lead in the second half at Old Trafford.
Basel led Man United 3-2 in the dying minutes of the game until Ashley Young popped up for his first Champions League goal on his debut in the competition.
Ferguson’s team went into the half time break with a comfortable lead after Danny Welbeck scored twice within two minutes with both assists coming from Ryan Giggs.
Basel started brightly with two decent chances within the first 10 minutes as Marco Streller and Fabian Frei spurned opportunities to put their team ahead.
The Swiss champions were made to pay for their profligacy in the 16th minute when Valencia found Fabio just inside the right side of Basel’s box; the young right-back pulled his cross inside the box where Ryan Giggs’ touch teed up Welbeck to finish for United’s first.
Giggs was once again the creator in the 17th minute when his cross from the left found Welbeck in acres of space at the back post and the former Sunderland player duly scored his and United’s second goal of the night.
Basel had an excellent opportunity to pull a goal back in the 24th minute when some brilliant interplay between the midfield and Streller found Frei with the goal at his mercy but the veteran Swiss international put his shot wide of De Gea’s post.
Valencia had a chance to effectively kill the game off just before time when an attempted cross took a deflection and found the Ecuadorian winger at the back post but his shot was expertly saved by the leg of Basel goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
The second half came as a shock to United, as the home team’s complacency kicked in and allowed Basel to get back into the game.
United’s defending at times was shocking as their concentration levels dipped and their midfield disappeared.
Basel punished their slack attitude in the 58th minute when United’s defence let a corner bounce dangerously in the box and their defence failed to close down Fabian Frei, who hit the ball on the half-volley, off the post and into the back of the net.
Two minutes later it was Fabian’s namesakes’ turn as he sent in a cross to Alexander Frei who headed the ball past De Gea for the equaliser.
Man United looked rattled as Basel’s performance picked up with the Swiss team looking most likely to score next and in the 75th minute, Streller went down in United’s box to the sound of the referee awarding him a penalty.
Valencia and Streller came together in the box and the referee saw the contact as fitting for a penalty.
Frei stepped up to the spot to score his second of the night and put Ferguson’s team in big trouble.
Eventually the substitute Nani provided the class and vision to find Ashley Young unmarked at the back post from the Portugese winger’s cross from the right and Young finished superbly with his header.
There was still one last chance for United as Young’s take down in the box in the dying seconds came to Berbatov who shot wide instead of passing it inside to a host of onrushing United attackers; justifying his place on the bench behind Welbeck.
It was rare to see a Ferguson side dropping points at Old Trafford in such a seemingly routine Champions League game in, what looks on paper, a fairly tame group.
Man United have been excellent going forward this season and have, at times, allowed their defensive side to suffer as a result.
This game will provide a stark reminder to Ferguson of the importance of his defence and the 69 year-old will have no qualms about relaying that message to his players, ad nauseam.
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Manchester United 3 – 3 Basel
Welbeck 16′, 17′
F. Frei 58′, A. Frei 60′, 76′
Full time: The referee blows the whistle and United salvage a point from a losing position. The second half performance from United wasn’t good with mistakes at the back and a lack of midfield. It is not often United let a two-goal lead slip away and Ferguson will have to take a good look at his team to ensure that a repeat performance of tonight doesn’t happen.
90min+5: Berbatov wastes a chance to square the ball into the box and shoots aimlessly at the side netting.
90min+4: The referee gets in the way of Park who was lining up to shoot. That’s the third time the ref has made himself a nuisance in the second half.
90min+1: Another brilliant cross from Nani finds Welbeck whose header goes inches wide. So close to a hat-trick there.
90min: GOAL! Nani whips in a cross from the right which finds Ashley Young at the back post unmarked and the winger heads it in to the back of the net.
89min: Goalscorer Alexander Frei comes off for Taulant Xhaka.
88min: Jones chips the ball in to Berbatov whose header can’t beat Sommer in the Basle goal.
87min:Young trips up in the box but the referee doesn’t flinch and waves play on.
85min: Nani is incorrectly flagged for offside and United spurn another attacking chance.
82min: Anderson comes off for Dimitar Berbatov as Welbeck misses a sitter from about 5 yards out.
81min: Young cuts inside from the left wing and shoots low but Sommer gets down low to save.
80min: Another poor cross from Young is easily collected by Sommer. Zoua fouls Evra and United have a free as Streller comes of for Kwang-Ryong Pak.
78min: Young and Valencia both have poor crosses cleared by Basel’s defence.
76min: GOAL! Frei makes no mistake from the spot and drills it into the top left hand corner.
75min: Penalty to Basel! Valencia is adjudged to have taken down Streller and Basel have a penalty. Frei steps up.
74min: Nani overhits a pass to Welbeck, who can’t control it.
72min: Good interplay between Nani, Park and Welbeck down the right but Park looked like he was blocked off by a Basel defender. The referee waves play on however. Replays show Park was deliberately held back.
71min: Granit Xhaka is booked for a challenge on Ashley Young.
70min: Nani comes on for the injured Fabio. Valencia will slot into the right back position while Nani will occupy the right wing.
68min: Young sends a cross into the back post from the left but Valencia’s header to keep it in doesn’t find anyone.
66min: Basel are on the front foot now and have had the better of the play in the second half.
64min: The free kick is whipped in but Jones clears.
63min: Fabio is down after a clash with Zoua but it’s a free to Basel.
61min: Ryan Giggs comes off for Ji-Sung Park.
60min:GOAL! Alexander Frei equalises for Basel! The ball is crossed into the Swiss striker who heads home expertly. Great finish from Frei.
58min: GOAL! Fabian Frei scores after a cross from a corner bounces and the midfielder volleys to pull one back.
57min: Frei chips a ball inside United’s defence but Rio Ferdinand comes back to defend Streller’s attempted shot.
54min: Great play by United and Giggs’ in particular as some good passing between himself and Young find the Welshman with space in the box but Giggs shoots instead of passing Sommer saves.
51min: Unbelievable chance for Streller who shoots from about 6 yards out but his shot is saved by De Gea. Brilliant save from the young Spanish goalkeeper but Streller should have scored.
50mins: United are sitting off Basel and letting them retain possession as they sit on their two-goal lead.
47min: Ashley Young scores but it’s offside.
46min: We’re back underway at Old Trafford.
Half time: It’s half time at Old Trafford and despite having several chance, Basel find themselves two goals down against the much more clinical Man United team. Welbeck has justified Ferguson’s decision to start him ahead of the £30million striker Berbatov, as the young Englishman has netted twice, with a little help from veteran Ryan Giggs.
45min: Chance for Valencia to cross but he’s offside.
42min: Valencia has a shot brilliantly saved by Sommer from close range. Great chance for United but an even better save.
40min: Giggs hits the wall.
39min: Young is fouled just outside the Basel box and this is a good chance for United.
37min: United win a corner after Giggs’ cross to Welbeck is deflected wide but the corner comes to nothing.
36min: Another chance for Basel as Frei sets up Zoua again but he’s unable to finish.
34min: Good interplay by United in the Basel box ends up with Welbeck taking a shot but Sommer does well to save.
33min: Welbeck is fouled in his own half to relieve the pressure on his team.
31min: Giggs’ throw-in sends Evra down the wing but his cross is pulled back too far and no United striker can get on the end of it.
29min: Young has a chance to play in Welbeck for a chance but his pass is short and cut out by the Basel defence.
28min: Giggs’ shot wins a corner and Ashley Young’s cross is fired invitingly across the Basel goal but Carrick doesn’t gamble on it and misses the chance to score.
27min: Another chance for Basel and Zoua who gets set up by Frei but the midfielder shoots wide from a difficult angle.
24min: Great opportunity for Basel to pull one back as they neatly pass the ball into United’s box. Streller lays the ball off to Alexander Frei who puts the ball wide of the post. It was put on a plate for the Swiss striker there.
21min: Good determination from Fabio down the right who pushes the Basel defence to their byline.
17min: GOAL! Welbeck scores again and Giggs is the provider. The Welshman crosses the ball from the left to the young English forward who simply has to tap the ball into the back of the net.
16min: GOAL! Great team goal by United but it’s Danny Welbeck who finishes it off. Valencia plays in Fabio just inside Basel’s box on the right. The Brazilian full back crosses the ball to Giggs who tees it up for Welbeck to finish brilliantly.
14min: Valencia sends a cross in and Young’s half volley tests the keeper who saves well.
13min: Streller looks through on goal but he’s well offside and misses the target anyway.
12min: Zoua shoots from outside United’s box and wins a corner. De Gea collects from the corner with confidence.
10min: United turning up the pressure after some good play between Valencia and Fabio results in a corner. Giggs takes the corner short but eventually crosses it in and it’s caught harmlessly by Basel keeper Yann Sommer.
9min: Great cross by Ashley Young after a good run down the left. He sends the ball in to the back post but instead of shooting Antonio Valencia tries to head the ball back across goal and the chance is cleared.
6min: Fabian Frei has an excellent opening to score but shoots well over the bar. Bad miss but the United defence totally lost the Swiss midfielder there.
4min: Nervy moment as Evra shepherds the ball back to De Gea who has to stretch to clear a long pas forward by Basel.
2min: Streller has a chance to shoot for Basel but he doesn’t pull the trigger.
1min: We’re underway at Old Trafford as Danny Welbeck starts ahead of Dimitar Berbatov.
Manchester United: David De Gea, Fabio da Silva, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Anderson, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Antonio Valencia, Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young.
FC Basel: Yann Sommer, Markus Steinhofer, David Abraham, Aleksander Dragovic, Joo-Ho Park, Fabian Frei, Cabral, Jacques Zoua, Granit Xhaka, Alexander Frei, Marco Streller.
Manchester United host FC Basel at Old Trafford tonight and the English champions will be without their two first choice strikers, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.
Rooney pulled out of United’s trip to Stoke on Saturday with a hamstring injury and Sir Alex Ferguson predicts his talismanic striker will be out for a few weeks.
Hernandez came off in the opening minutes of United’s 1-1 draw against Stoke after what should have been a penalty resulted in the striker colliding with Potters’ goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, which forced the Mexican off with a dead leg.
The injuries to Ferguson’s premier two forwards opens up the door for the likes of Danny Welbeck and Dimitar Berbatov as well as Michael Owen, who impressed in United’s win at Leeds in the Carling Cup last week with a brace of goals.
Ferguson’s injury list continues with Chris Smalling set to miss out on the visit of Basel with a groin injury while Jonny Evans, who pulled out of the Stoke game after injuring his ankle in the warm-up, also remains sidelined.
After picking up a point away from home against their toughest opponents in the group, Benfica, Man United will be looking to get their first three points at home against the Swiss champions, who currently lie fourth in the Swiss Super League.
Basel’s manager Thorsten Fink may be familiar to some United fans as a second half substitute for Bayern Munich in the Red Devil’s famous Champions League victory in ’99.
Fink’s team are currently eight points off the pace in the Swiss League and their cause in the Champions League is not helped by their injury list.
Basel are without Australian midfielder Scott Chipperfield as well as their young star Xherdan Shaqiri, who is suspended.
Midfielders Yapo Gilles Yapi and Valentin Stocker, as well as defender Genseric Kusunga are all out with knee injuries.
The Swiss champions have never won in England in seven attempts but their last outing at Old Trafford in the 2002/2003 season saw them come away with a point after a 1-1 draw.
A draw may be as high as Basel hope for however as Man United haven’t lost a game at Old Trafford in the Champions League since losing 1-0 to Besiktas in November 2009.
This game should see the Red Devil’s come out on top but what would usually be a routine win and three points looks a bit nervier without the influential Wayne Rooney and the clinical Hernandez.