FC Basel 2-1 Manchester United – as it happened
Well that was a fucking disaster
Full-time: FC Basel 2-1 Manchester United That’s it! Manchester United are out of the European Cup and this computer is dead to me. It’s surely the greatest night in FC Basel’s history, and they deserve it too. Congratulations to them – particularly Xhaka, Shaqiri and their magnificent fans, who haven’t eaten a prawn sandwich between them in their lives. Sir Alex Ferguson graciously shakes the hand of FC Basel’s caretaker manager, Duncan White of the Sunday Telegraph, and then stomps off, giving his chewing gum a serious workout. For the first time in 16 seasons, he will play in the Uefa Cup. United weren’t diabolical tonight; they were just thoroughly mediocre and, for all their possession, they didn’t do enough to plead injustice. This is what the Glazers have created, a mediocre team that serves up shit hanging from a stick. It might not feel like the end of the world, as it did in 2005-06 – but for a team who have got to three of the last four European Cup finals it is undoubtedly a humiliation. Mind you, United should be thankful for small mercies: at least, unlike in 2005-06, United are in the Uefa Cup. By the second week in January, it might be all they have left to play for.
90 min I’ll tell you about the goal when this stupid piece of junk stops playing silly buggers*. There will be three added minutes. Can Manchester United score two? They never score two these days.
* Post-edit: there’s not much point now, is there.
GOAL! Basel 2-1 Manchester United (Jones 89) My computer keeps crashing. Bloody hell.
86 min Evra is booked for a block on Shaqiri.
GOAL! Basel 2-0 Manchester United (A Frei 84) Basel have done it! Manchester United are going out of the European Cup thanks to old man Alexander Frei. Shaqiri’s swirling, dipping cross from the right goes all the way across the box, past the dithering Smalling, and when it bounces up at the far post Frei heads it in from three yards. That’s terrible defending from Smalling, who had no awareness of Frei behind him. United have had most of the possession, but they have been poor since half-time and can have few complaints.
82 min Basel’s first change: Scott Chipperfield replaces the teenager Granit Xhaka, who put in an excellent shift even though he was on a yellow card for much of the game.
81 min Another United substitution: Federico Macheda replaces Ji-sung Park. It’s Rooney, rather than Welbeck, who has moved to the left wing. He used to play there to accommodate Cristiano Ronaldo; now he does so to accommodate Welbeck and Macheda.
80 min Shaqiri runs beyond Welbeck, into the area, and his shot is blocked by Smalling.
79 min Jones’ dangerous low cross from the right is well claimed by Sommer. United are having all the ball but they still look unconvincing.
76 min United win a corner on the left, and Basel bring everyone back. Giggs swings it in and it’s half cleared to Rooney, 20 yards out. He moves away from a defender and then curves a deliberate effort a few yards wide of the far post with the goalkeeper motionless.
73 min Nani plays in the overlapping Smalling, whose high cross is headed over the stretching Rooney, five yards out. He was offside anyway.
71 min “Has there ever been a ‘streakier’ player in the history of football than Wayne Rooney?” says Jon Cummins. “So unplayable in when he’s on form, and not worth playing when he’s off form.” Aye. Absurd to think he got back-to-back hat-tricks only three months ago.
70 min Nani wins a corner off the left back Park. He takes it hiimself, and Xhaka heads it clear. Sommer still hasn’t had a major save since half time.
67 min “Look,” says Louwrens Botha, “this United team aren’t going to win the Champions League. What does it matter whether we go out now or in the quarters against Real or the final against Barca? Only difference is, this way there’s more chance of the owners being shocked into spending some cash.” I know what you mean about them not winning it, but the fact they will lose money if they go out makes them less likely to spend money. Especially as they don’t have any.
64 min Rooney is found by Giggs on the left of the box. He comes infield, past a couple of defenders in a crowded box, and then drags his disguised shot wide of the near post. Moments later, Danny Welbeck replaces the disappointing Ashley Young. He will go up front with Park moving to the left.
62 min “Since the Glazer takeover I’ve often mused at which point it would be that I stopped supporting Manchester United,” says Callum Hamilton. “With the entire club being run to prop up some indebted malls, those great sinkholes of all that’s good and holy, and our sexiest players (the twins) injured, our most aggressive player now badly injured, and with our best player performing like utter toilet, I fear that time may be growing near. I’m not fickle, I’ve just had enough.” I’ll always love the club while Michael Owen is wearing the shirt.
60min Steinhofer hits his own bar! Nani’s chipped cross to the far post dropped over a couple of heads and then Steinhofer, with Young behind him, blootered it on the volley off the underside of the bar! That was preposterous.
57 min Basel don’t make the most of a five-on-four break, but they will be well pleased with how this half has gone. Moments later, Fabian Frei moves away from Smalling in the box, and Smalling does well to recover and block Frei’s shot at the expense of a corner. From it, Dragovic’s header is straight at De Gea. Basel look the much likelier scorers the noo.
56 min The attacking options on the bench are Welbeck, Macheda, Valencia and, er, Gibson’s long-range shooting. Valencia would normally be the one, but Nani has been so good against the left-back Park that Ferguson might not want to tamper with that.
55 min Basel have been the better side in this half. There still seems to be a smug sense that United just can’t go it, but they are only 35 minutes away now.
53 min This is a fine spell for Basel, and Jones is penalised for a perceived foul on Xhaka, 25 yards from goal. The free-kick is clipped over the wall by Alexander Frei, and De Gea leaps backwards and to his right to tip it over. That was a very good save.
52 min A lovely effort from Shaqiri drifts not far wide. Streller broke beyond Evra onto a quick throw and lobbed a cross to Shaqiri, on the edge of the box. He flirted with the ball for a bit and then clipped a fine effort towards the far top corner and just wide. De Gea didn’t look particularly alarmed, but it wasn’t that far away.
51 min “You can imagine that with the ferocity turned up to eleven and an obscenity every other word Roy Keane’s half time sign off on ITV of ‘That’s what playing for Manchester United is, you have to produce’ was pretty much his pre-match, half-time and full-time gee up to the lads when he was captain,” says Mike Gibbons. It was wonderful, every word was spat with disgust at the very notion they could go out of Europe to Basel.
50 min Nani’s long-range shot is well held by Sommer, leaping to his left.
49 min Rooney almost equalises. He broke beyond the defence onto Giggs’s excellent pass down the inside-left channel, and then came infield to within 15 yards of goal before placing an extravagant curler across goal and just wide of the far post. That was a pretty decent effort.
48 min The second half has started as the first ended: with 22 men kicking around an inflated pig’s bladder. And with the men in white doing it much more often than those in red and blue.
46 min Basel kick off from left to right.
Instead of reading my rubbish about the first half, just click here for video highlights from 101 Great Goals. What do you think about the De Gea mistake? It’s clearly a cock-up, but I can’t decide how bad it was as it’s so unusual. He stuck out a leg like a keeper who had been unsighted and saw the ball late, yet he had a clear view of the cross from the moment it left Shaqiri’s foot.
Roy Keane is in great form on ITV. He’s bristling, and you can tell he’s dying to be out there. “Playing for Manchester United is about getting out of situations, and now we’ll see what this team is made of. Phil Jones said before the game he was relaxed – let’s see how relaxed he is now.”
That Vidic injury looks really bad on replays. If he is out for a long time, Manchester City will be champions. No question about that.
Half-time email (II) “I’m watching this, and I’m finding myself hating Streller with a bizarre intensity,” says Ethan Dean-Richards, who generally doesn’t hate people with intensity, bizarre or otherwise. “It began with me finding out that United were on TV and not City. It grew when I found out that we had no chips left in the freezer. From there, I’ve been looking for a scapegoat. Streller is a big guy, and not talented, so when I saw him so pleased with himself for scoring that tap in I fixed on him. Now every time Streller touches the ball I’m seething. This isn’t even a joke – I feel like cunting him one and he’s done nothing.”
Half-time email “Which is the better leveller,” says David Cooper, “the weather or Jonny Evans?”
Half time: Basel 1-0 Manchester United Basel are 45 minutes from glory. United are 45 minutes from ARE THEY IN CRISIS? Here’s the expert verdict on whether Basel can do this.
45+3 min Young is booked for pulling back Xhaka. It was the right decision, but the referee only did it after pressure from the Basel players. This referee seems like a bit of a clown.
45+1 min Shaqiri comes inside Park on the right corner of the box and hits a firm shot straight into the chest of De Gea.
43 min Nemanja Vidic is in trouble here. He was penalised for fouling Streller, and immediately starting waving his hands in pain. He’s twisted his knee, and that could be a bad injury. He’s being stretchered off, although he looks comfortable now, and will be replaced by – gulp – Jonny Evans.
41 min “I fear that De Gea’s mistake will overshadow the fact that it was a great finish by Streller,” says Benjamin Last. “Anywhere else and he misses or it’s blocked. Perfect blend of power and precision.” It was indeed, a superb and almost nonchalant finish.
40 min Young curls a shot straight at Sommer from the edge of the box. Just befor that, Xhaka was putting himself about again. He needs to be careful.
38 min Nani is taken out by Park Joo Ho just outside the box on the right. He is destroying Park. Basel desperately need half time. Anyway, the resulting free kick is passed craftily by Giggs to Jones, 12 yards out, and his shot is blocked.
37 min “UNITED 4-5-1: only for use against stiffest of tests up to and including any club abbreviated FCB that wears red and blue,” says Matt Walker. “Errrrrrrrr…….where’s Xavi?”
35 min A typical reverse pass from Giggs finds Rooney, 10 yards out, and his shot on the turn is straight at Sommer. That was superb from Giggs. United are all over Basel, and 30 seconds later Nani’s close-range shot is blocked desperately by the keeper Sommer.
34 min Young loops a header over from Rooney’s left-wing cross, after a lovely run from the increasingly influential Nani. Basel are playing a dangerous game: they’ve started timewasting already, and have apparently declared at one.
33 min Still all United in terms of possession, and Nani wins a corner on the right. By the way, the stat in the team news section was wrong – Phil Jones wasn’t even born when Ryan Giggs made his Manchester United debut. Nor was Shaqiri, who has been the best player on the pitch so far.
30 min A remarkable miss from Wayne Rooney. Nani beat Fabian Frei on the right and put in a wonderful low cross to find Rooney, four yards from goal at the far post. He hasn’t scored from open play since September, and it showed as he completely mistimed his kick, sending the ball square back across the box rather than into the net. It came for Park, who was off balance as he bobbled a feeble shot into the keeper’s arms from a few yards, but Rooney’s was the really bad miss. Actually he was guilty of a similar miss at Blackburn in similar weather in 2006-07, in fact. I suspect that then, as now, conditions played a small part. Still, there’s no doubt he should have scored.
27 min Another lovely run from the outstanding Shaqiri ends with Xhaka’s cross from the left being headed clear by Ferdinand. Moments later, Xhaka is booked for a brazen trip on Nani. He could go at some point, as he seems to be on one. As most 19-year-olds in a game of this size would be, in fairness.
26 min A good move from right to left involving Park, Nani and Rooney ends with Young’s cross from the left of the box being cleared well by Fabian Frei. That was probably United’s best move of the match.
24 min “While not that calamitous if Manchester United go out of this competition tonight,” begins George Templeton, “could that begin the unraveling of this undoubtedly talented but very young goalkeeper?” I doubt it. I think he has been brilliant for United so far, and I’m not sure that it was that bad an error anyway. It was just all a bit unusual.
23 min Giggs is playing against Basel as he does against Barcelona – passing the ball sloppily and frivolously. United will be just starting to think the unthinkable, because for all their possession they haven’t got behind Basel at all.
21 min “When you said the weather was a great leveller, well, I think it’ll take more than that to get United to Basle’s qualit-HONK,” honks my muse Alex Netherton.
20 min United are having all of the ball, as they have for all of the match, but they haven’t created a half chance yet, never mind a clear one. If they lose this they go into the Uefa Cup for the first time since 1995. In fact the last time they played in the Uefa Cup was my fourth day at university. A look in the mirror informs me that this was some time ago.
19 min Emails please! Please.
17 min To clarify, De Gea’s mistake was nowhere near as bad as Mannone’s for Arsenal last night, but it was peculiar that he went with his left foot rather than his hands. I think he was off balance, leaning slightly backwards, and that it was just an instinctive reaction because he knew he couldn’t get there with his hands. He wasn’t to know, but had he left the ball it would have whistled to safety.
16 min Shaqiri skins Evra on the right and clips over a dangerous cross that is headed away by Ferdinand.
15 min Young wins United’s first corner, down the left. It leads to another corner on the other side, which is curled in by Giggs, headed back towards his own goal by Cabral and then headed away by Park Joo Ho.
13 min Shaqiri is nominally the right winger, but he is wandering all over the field to good effect. He could grow into a fantastic player; he has swagger, attitude and lots of ability. There’s a bit of the young Rooney about him, and not just because he’s a wee bit tubby.
12 min Nani shoots over from 20 yards.
GOAL! Basel 1-0 United (Streller 9) Well well well. A strange piece of goalkeeping from De Gea leads to the opening goal for Basel. Shaqiri on the left drilled a vicious low cross along the six-yard box, and De Gea decided to try to clear it with his outstretched left foot. It went straight to Streller, 12 yards out, and he blootered it emphatically back whence it came. That’s a cracking finish, but what is it with goalkeepers of English clubs using their feet rather than their hands? In De Gea’s defence, the cross was hit with serious power.
One point of note is that Smalling was down injured when the goal was scored, after being accidentally elbowed in the face by Vidic. He’s fine to continue though.
6 min Basel’s first attack involves the dangerous Shaqiri, who roams from right to left and puts in a cross that is punched away unconvincingly by De Gea.
5 min Basel can’t get a kick at the moment, and when they do Dragovic shanks a clearance into touch.
3 min Park swerves a shot on the turn over the bar from 15 yards after a patient move. This has been a superbly authoritative start from United.
2 min United are playing 4-2-3-1, as we expected, with park just behind Rooney. He played that role a few times in 2009-10, most notably at home to Liverpool. United have started well, and Young’s cross from the left of the area is blocked by Abraham.
1 min There is a storming atmosphere as United kick off from left to right. They are in white; Basel are in red and blue stripes.
It’s welting it down in Basel, and the pitch is wetter than Drew Barrymore at a grunge club. Sexually liberated urban men and women would probably write #greatleveller at this point. Twitter, so much to answer for.
Team news With the renascent Michael Carrick suspended, Sir Alex Ferguson pairs Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs in central midfield. Their age gap isn’t quite in Hugh-Hefner-marriage territory, but when Giggs made his United debut Jones wasn’t even born. Ji-sung Park returns, as he always does for tricky away games in Europe; he will probably play behind Wayne Rooney, who has gone from deep-lying playmaker to lone centre forward in just over a month.
FC Basel (4-4-2) Sommer; Steinhofer, Abraham, Dragovic, Park Joo Ho; Shaqiri, Cabral, Xhaka, F. Frei; A. Frei, Streller.
Substitutes Colomba, Chipperfield, Stocker, Kusunga, Kovac, Zoua, Pak.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Jones, Giggs; Nani, Park, Young; Rooney.
Substitutes Lindegaard, Evans, Welbeck, Fletcher, Valencia, Macheda, Gibson.
Stuff and business
1. All hail Pagoda.
2. Buy my book. (Only if you wish. It’s not like I know where you live and will hunt you down if you don’t. I mean I do know where you live, but there’s no guarantee I’ll use that information for vengeful purposes.)
3. What United, with their dearth of fit/competent strikers, would give for this gentleman tonight.
Preamble Evening. Everyone has their Kryptonite. For Peep Show’s Mark Corrigan, it’s sexually liberated urban women. For me and you, it’s sexually liberated urban women. And for Manchester United, in Europe at least, it’s teams whose names began with ‘Ba’. In the last three seasons they’ve been put out by Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Barcelona again; now they could face elimination at the hands of Basel. That’s where the comparison ends, mind: if the other three exits were acceptable enough, in terms of the quality of opposition, the stage of the tournament (two finals and a quarter-final) and even the Glazers’ business plan, then going out to Basel in the group stages is pretty much unthinkable. For a side that has reached three of the last four finals, this would be a seriously premature elimination.
United have only gone out of the group stages twice in almost 20 years: in 1994-95, when the groups were still a major challenge for English clubs, and in 2005-06, when United were such a rabble that some very, very, very stupid men wrote off Sir Alex Ferguson for good. It’s an indictment of how disgracefully routine the group stages have become that this is only the third time in 10 years that United have even gone into the last group game needing a result to qualify. Imagine the inconvenience! Uefa will be asking millionaire footballers to wipe their own backsides next!
As any fule kno, United need a draw against Basel tonight. For a side that has a sensational recent record on the plane (in the last 25 matches in Europe their away record is W17 D7 L1) that would seem straightforward – so much so that nobody in the media seems to have thought about the unthinkable exit. But Basel are dangerous customers. They should have won at Old Trafford, they are bang in form and they will be backed by some of the most fervent support in the world. The last time United played away to Basel, they were behind inside 31 seconds. Expect a similarly fast start tonight.