They may have come away with just a point in the end but the players of FC Basel 1893 left Old Trafford, scene of their dramatic 3-3 draw with Manchester United FC, feeling like heroes, according to captain Marco Streller.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time on Tuesday night, the Swiss title holders drew level through goals from Fabian and Alexander Frei and looked set for a famous victory when the latter's spot kick put them in front. Yet not even Ashley Young's 90th-minute header could dampen the excitement among Thorsten Fink's side afterwards. Streller told UEFA.com: "For a night we are heroes in Switzerland – it was an amazing team performance. We are happy with how we played, and in the end we might have won here."
Streller paid credit to coach Fink for instilling in Basel's players the belief that they could get something at Old Trafford, where United have lost just one UEFA Champions League game in the last seven seasons. "We have a coach who plays very offensively and he said before the game that we go to Manchester to win," said the striker.
What they got was a surprisingly open match, with Basel producing as many goal attempts as their hosts (13) and enjoying more possession (53%), but at the break they seemed destined to pay for spurning some clear opportunities. "At half-time we said we need one goal and then we'll be back in it, we got it and we really got right back into it," Streller explained, adding: "[Fink] was really angry at half-time because we'd had a lot of chances and normally at Man United you don't get so many."
Midfielder Fabian Frei, who drove in Basel's first goal in the 58th minute, reflected that it was "something special" to score at Old Trafford. He too was surprised by how many holes Basel found in United's defence. "I thought we would not have so many chances in the game – even in the first half we had some big chances. If you're 2-0 down at half-time in Manchester it is really hard but we produced a good response. We believed at half-time. We said, 'Let's try, maybe something is possible,' and in the end it was the right choice to risk something in the second half."
Basel are joint-top of Group C alongside SL Benfica, their next opponents, and Streller, who gave United's defence a difficult evening, said they had the self-belief to go on and reach the knockout stages. "It will be tough, the next game, but we can go through, we believe it. We're a good team and our second-half performance was one of the best I've ever seen from a Swiss team."
In the United camp, by contrast, this second consecutive draw felt "like a defeat" to midfielder Michael Carrick. Last season's runners-up have work to do, Carrick admitted, though he remains confident they can make up the lost ground. "We threw it away. It is not like us at all, but I am sure it is a one-off and we will bounce back." Speaking of United's famed powers of recovery, he added: "We always believe we'll get a chance to score and thankfully Ashley put it away. We might even have nicked it – Berba [Dimitar Berbatov] had half a chance to score but it was probably asking too much."
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