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Future bright for Basel, says United's nemesis Frei

As Alexander Frei prepares for Wednesday's crucial UEFA Champions League visit of Manchester United FC, the striker insists FC Basel 1893 "have a future in UEFA competition".

Future bright for Basel, says United's nemesis Frei
Future bright for Basel, says United's nemesis Frei ©UEFA.com

Alexander Frei has achieved a lot in his FC Basel 1893 career but little will be remembered as fondly as the two goals he scored in the 3-3 draw at Manchester United FC on UEFA Champions League matchday two. As the sides prepare to face each other at St. Jakob-Park on Wednesday with a last-16 place at stake, the striker revisited the "life-changing" thriller.

"The guys are really proud we got a 3-3 draw and it is something that will stay with them for the rest of their careers. But the way I see it, it was more important for the future in general – when it happens, it's absolutely amazing and something we may never experience again at Basel but it shows that we have a future in UEFA competition. And really for 45 minutes we showed Basel fans something that briefly changed their lives."

Their side did it the hard way, going 2-0 down at Old Trafford before mounting a comeback that culminated in Frei giving them the lead 14 minutes from time. Ashley Young's last-minute equaliser helped United avoid their first UEFA Champions League home defeat since 2005, and ultimately ensure it is Basel and not they who must win their deciding Group C match. Yet Frei says he only has great memories of that September night.

"It was a unique experience to play at Old Trafford," he said. "We had to pull out all the stops to get a positive result. We didn't underestimate ourselves, but the way things went and the way we played, especially in the second half, is something nobody expected.

"There is this moment where you say to yourself, 'Wow. I am playing in the Champions League in this huge stadium,' and you are filled with this feeling of great awe, playing against players you have seen on television, at a club with such a great tradition."

Basel were awestruck for the first 45 minutes, but then coach Thorsten Fink told them "to believe" at half-time – the message still rings true going into Wednesday's St. Jakob-Park showdown. The Swiss side require victory to reach the knockout stage at United's expense.

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