Manchester Utd limped out of the Champions League last night as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat away to Basel.
Goals from Marco Streller and Alexander Frei sent Utd spinning out of Europe’s most prestigious club competition at the group stages for the first time since the 2005/6 season.
While defeat last night confirmed Utd’s exit from the competition, the seeds of this exit were sown a few weeks back when Utd threw away a two goal lead at home to last nights opponents. Utd knew that a draw or a win last night would send them through, but at no time did they show the clinical or ruthless nature required to get the job done. It was a limp performance from the Premier League champions.
Basel started the brighter and deservedly took an early lead when some weak goalkeeping from David de Gea allowed Streller to smash the ball home and send the home fans into raptures.
That should have been the signal for Utd to go about their business, but too many players on the night went missing. Ryan Giggs will want to forget this game in a hurry and Wayne Rooney played as if his mind was somewhere else.
Chances came and went for Utd and you felt with every missed opportunity that it wasn’t going to be their night. Their cause wasn’t helped when they lost their inspirational captain Nemanja Vidic to what looked like a serious knee injury.
The second half rolled on much like the first. Basel, while defending manically at times, always looked to be in control of what Utd were throwing at them. De Gea kept his side in the game with a wonderful stop from a Shaqiri’s free-kick over the bar in the 53rd minute.
Visually one could see the confidence and belief growing inside the Basel players and in the 84th minute they would be in dreamland.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s inswinging and bouncing cross from the right was headed home by Alexander Frei. It gave the home side a priceless 2-0 buffer and also sent the Utd players reaching for the collective panic button.
Utd threw everything they had in the final few minutes, and although they managed to pull one goal back it wasn’t enough and they limped out of the Champions League, tail between their legs and a lot of individual and collective rebuilding to do.
BASLE: Sommer, Steinhofer, Abraham, Dragovic, Park, Shaqiri (Stocker 90), Cabral, Granit Xhaka (Chipperfield 82), Fabian Frei, Alexander Frei (Kusunga 87), Streller. Subs Not Used : Colomba, Kovac, Zoua, Pak.Booked : Granit Xhaka, Fabian Frei.
MAN UTD: De Gea, Smalling, Vidic (Evans 44), Ferdinand, Evra, Park (Macheda 82), Giggs, Jones, Young (Welbeck 64), Nani, Rooney. Subs Not Used : Lindegaard, Fletcher, Valencia, Gibson. Booked : Young, Evra.