Brilliant Basel hit heights to knock out United
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
FC Basel 1893 2-1 Manchester United FC
A goal in each half from Marco Streller and Alexander Frei secured a famous home victory and second place in Group C at their opponents' expense.
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FC Basel 1893 reached the UEFA Champions League last 16 for only the second time as Marco Streller and Alexander Frei scored in each half to secure a famous victory over Manchester United FC to end last season's finalists' interest in the competition.
With SL Benfica already assured of progress, Basel and United met with Group C's second qualifying berth at stake. United needed only a point but Xherdan Shaqiri proved a thorn in their side; his cross led to Streller's thumping ninth-opener finish and, as the visitors pressed for an equaliser, the 20-year-old set up Frei to head a second six minutes from time.
Phil Jones halved the deficit, but Basel survived a tense finale to advance from the initial group stage for the first time since 2002/03. United, meanwhile, fail to progress from a group stage for only the third time and, though both teams will be involved in a draw on 16 December, the English club will be in the UEFA Europa League.
Although United started confidently, their early optimism was punctured after they failed to clear Markus Steinhöfer's delivery. Shaqiri collected on the left wing and whipped in a vicious cross that United goalkeeper David de Gea could only deflect into the path of Streller, who fired in convincingly.
That strike put the wind in Basel's sails and they continued to press forward as United struggled to contain Shaqiri. However, Nani was becoming equally influential for the visitors and, just past the half-hour, delivered a dangerous cross that narrowly evaded Wayne Rooney and Park Ji-Sung.
Nani's own effort was bravely smothered by Yann Sommer, and the Basel goalkeeper was also equal to Rooney's drive after the striker was put through by Ryan Giggs. The English side's mounting frustration was obvious, yet they started the second period positively. Rooney sent one effort wide, before the home goal had a fortunate escape when Steinhöfer's attempted volleyed clearance came back off his own crossbar.
Basel had chances of their own, Frei having one kick acrobatically saved as Heiko Vogel's charges looked to put daylight between them and United. On the break they managed to do just that; Shaqiri curled in from the right and Streller cleverly dummied for Frei to steal in at the far post and nod in.
Jones's header after Federico Macheda's shot had come back off the bar gave United hope, but Basel stood strong.