There were no smiles as Manchester United players left Switzerland on Wednesday night. No autographs were signed, no interviews were given. Such was the shock of the 2-1 loss to Basel that Man United fans, manager and players alike could scarcely believe what had just transpired. Going into the final round of group matches, Basel had to win to qualify for the second phase of the UEFA Champions League while English champions Man United needed merely to draw to secure progress to the knock out rounds. Everyone was convinced that Manchester United would romp to a victory; the only concern was whether United could pip an impressive Benfica side to the top spot. Everyone expected a Man United win in this fixture. And everyone was wrong.
The match could not have started worse for Manchester United as Basel raced into a surprise early lead. Vidic and Smalling got themselves into a tangle and when the loose ball broke kindly for young phenom Xherdan Shaqiri, he drilled it across the box; simply terrible piece of goalkeeping from young Spanish stopper David de Gea allowed Marco Streller to volley home. Faced with that setback United pressed ahead for an equalizer and though they enjoyed much possession and created a few chances, the opportunities were not taken. Park Ji Sung, Wayne Rooney and Nani were the main culprits and the clinical finishing of Javier Chicharito Hernandez was keenly missed. The second half saw Basel take the match to Man United. Shaqiri was a constant thorn in the side of the United defence and repeatedly pushed the Red Devils back when he picked up the ball in the midfield.
With time running out and Man United pouring forward, Basel caught Man United with the classic sucker punch. Shaqiri again provided the assist, swinging over a delightful cross to the back post which Alexander Frei gleefully nodded home. Man United did score a late consolation courtesy of Phil Jones, but it was a case of too little, too late and the small Swiss team sent the English giants crashing out of the Champions League on the night. The final result read Basel 2-1 Man United. A match that will live long in the memory of football fans worldwide.