Ashley Young marked his UEFA Champions League debut with a last-minute header to save Manchester United FC from defeat in a remarkable 3-3 draw with FC Basel 1893.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men were just minutes away from a first home defeat in 17 months after Basel had overturned Danny Welbeck's first-half double, drawing level through quick-fire goals from Fabian and Alexander Frei before the latter's spot kick 14 minutes from time put the visitors in front. But Young came to the rescue as he nodded in substitute Nani's cross at the far post to earn United their second draw in Group C.
Sir Alex Ferguson had warned about United's "careless mistakes" in their last home fixture against Chelsea FC but those worries initially appeared redundant after Welbeck's early strikes. With Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernández injured, the 20-year-old was starting ahead of Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen and he benefitted from the support of Ryan Giggs, 17 years his senior, with whom he combined for both goals.
After 16 minutes, Fabio put over a low cross that Giggs, with a clever touch, laid back to Welbeck and although the striker did not get the cleanest touch, he did enough to send the ball spinning in off Yann Sommer's left-hand post. Within 60 seconds, it was 2-0 as Giggs slid a pass across the area to Welbeck who beat Sommer with a precise side-footed finish.
United had had chances even before scoring, Antonio Valencia sending a free header off target, but then so had Basel when Fabian Frei shot wide. That set a frustrating template for the visitors in the first period; with United looking vulnerable at the back, Alexander Frei and Jacques Zoua both spurned opportunities to get back into the contest.
United had further chances too, but Sommer saved from Valencia with his foot while Young was denied a goal by an offside call moments after the restart. The second half then took an unwelcome course for the home side, however. Although De Gea foiled Streller, Basel finally got the goal they had been threatening after 58 minutes as the Spanish goalkeeper punched out a corner only as far as Fabian Frei and he drove the ball in off the post.
Two minutes later, the Swiss title holders had parity as Fabian Frei crossed from the right and his namesake Alexander headed powerfully past De Gea. Phil Jones' failure to clear the ball then led to Valencia bringing down Streller and Alexander Frei sent De Gea the wrong way from the spot. But Basel coach Thorsten Fink, part of the FC Bayern München team beaten by a late United comeback in the 1999 final, would know better than anyone that the Red Devils are never beaten and so it proved.
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