Basel 1-0 Manchester United: Champions League – as it happened

Paul Doyle on 22 November 2017

Full-time: Basel 1-0 United

Unied have failed to get the point they needed to ensure they finish top of their group. For 45 minutes they were dominant but guilty of squandering chances. When Basel raised the tempo in the second half, United failed to find any answer and unravelled badly. Basel threatened to take the lead several times before finally landing the blow that keeps their hopes of reaching the knockout stages very much alive. They could yet beat United to the top of the group. United now need to get at least a draw against CSKA Moscow in their final match. They should do that handily but, then again, they should have done that here, too.

Manchester United look dejected after their loss to Basel.
Manchester United look dejected after their loss to Basel. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

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90 min: There will be at least three more minutes for United to atone for throwing this match away through an undignified mixture of arrogance and conservatism, plus a weak limited midfield.

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GOAL! Basel 1-0 United (Lang 89)

Basel deserve that and so do United! Matic coughed up the ball mid-way inside how own half and Basel worked it wide on the left to Petretta, who fizzed a low ball across the face of goal. Lang arrived at the back post to slot into the net! United have been punished for their bad first-half finishing and their all-round awfulness in the second-half.

Basel’s Michael Lang celebrates after scoring a goal.
Basel’s Michael Lang celebrates after scoring a goal. Photograph: Patrick Straub/AP

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88 min: When in doubt, go Route 1. That’s the United Way. Romero punts one long. Lukaku gets his head to it, and it drops for Ibrahimovic, who bogs it high and wide from 30 yards. Liquid football, as in slurry.

86 min: Elyounoussi runs into Matic’s elbow and goes down clutching his face. The ref ignores him. Quite right.

85 min: Darmian commits another oafish tackle. Zuffi sends in the freekick. Fellaini heads it out. That’s been a recurring theme throughout the second period.

83 min: Darmian booked for knocking down Petretta after being beaten for pace down the left. There’s been a doziness about United throughout this second half, as they have utterly failed to match Basel’s improvement.

81 min: Herrera is nudged off the ball with ridiculous ease by Elyounoussi in midfield. Rojo curtails the attack.

Basel substitution: Fransson on, Die off.

79 min: Die strained himself while taking that shot a moment ago, and now he’s gone down again. He’s unable to continue. That’s a real shame because he was playing very well in central midfield.

77 min: Die lets fly from over 25 yards. It’s at the perfect height for Romero to produce a very photogenic save.

75 min: Ibrahimovic has gone central since his introduction. Lukaku has peeled a little to the right. Rashford is on the left.

United substitution: Ibrahimovic on, Martial off.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic prepares to come on.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic prepares to come on. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

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73 min: Rashford, probing just outside the Basel box, rolls a pass into Lukaku and then gets it back. He then makes to curl a shot towards the far corner before dropping his shoulder and firing low towards the near one instead. But it goes into the sidenetting.

72 min: Rojo makes a superb last-gasp tackle to block Oberlin’s shot from 15 yards after United were cut open again. They really have unravelled in this second half: Basel have cranked up the tempo and United have failed to react accordingly.

Dimitri Oberlin shoots wide.
Dimitri Oberlin shoots wide. Photograph: Georgios Kefalas/EPA

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70 min: Lang does brilliantly to keep the ball in play down the right and feeds Elyounoussi. Steffen then scurries into the box and past Rojo, who sticks out a leg but misses the ball ... Steffen runs into the leg and goes down, bringing howls from the crowd for a penalty! The referee takes several seconds to mull it over before deciding there was no foul. It’s probably the right decision, as the contact seemed to have been made by the attacker.

69 min: Martial embarks on a dangerous run in-field, beating two players before slipping an intended pass through to Blind, who wasn’t fast enough to keep up.

67 min: A loose pass by Rashford near half-way gives Elyounoussi a chance to mount another attack. United repel it but then Darmian gives the ball away again. Elyounoussi clips a cross over from the right. Blind fails to cut it out a few yards beyond the back post. Lang, without even needing to jump, guides a header .... off the bar and out!

United substitution: Matic on, Pogba off.

United substitution: Rashford on, Lingard off, without having earned a yellow card.

65 min: Steffen cuts in from the right and curls a shot from 16 yards ... just wide of the far post!

64 min: Fellaini heads the freekick away at the back post. Steffen retrieves the ball outside the area and has a pop. It gets a deflection off Oberlin, bringing a smart save from Romero.

63 min: Another freekick in a good crossing position for Basel, this time after Fellaini’s bumps into Zuffi. United’s carelessness is growing.

61 min: Blind is duped into conceding a freekick wide on the right. He was tricked by Steffen’s quick feet. Zuffi delivers the freekick. Blinds, at the near post, nuts it out for a corner.

58 min: Mourinho is starting to look miffed on the sideline. His team have lost the control they had been enjoying, and Basel’s dander is up.

56 min: Die outfoxes two United players with a lovely feint and burst. Suddenly Basel are running at United’s defence again. But yet again they are overwhelmed by net-fever, as Steffen fires off a hasty shot from 20 yards. Romero makes another easy save. With cooler decision-making they could have been in front by now.

Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United in action with Geoffroy Serey Die of FC Basel.
Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United in action with Geoffroy Serey Die of FC Basel. Photograph: John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

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54 min: Elyounoussi leads a breakaway attack by Basel, as United are a little exposed. Fortunately for the visitors, Elyounoussi ignores a team-mate to his right and decides to try to score from 25 yards. Easy save by Romero.

52 min: Basel are showing a little more gumption in this half and starting to attack in greater number. Balanta gets a bit ahead of himself, however, and tries to blem one into the net from 35 yards, with predictable consequences.

50 min: Darmian penalised for handball after Petreatta’s cross hits his arm. A nonsensical decision, as there was no way the defender could have avoided that. It gives Basel a chance to hoist in a cross from the left. They send forwar all their big men, who are all smaller than United’s big men. And no one is as big as Fellaini, who heads the delivery away at the edge of the six-yard box. Die pounces on it about 20 yards out and lashes a goo shot just wide!

48 min: Martial clips over a cross from the left. Lukaku rises to meet it near the penalty spot but heads wide.

47 min: There have been two negatives for United so far: their sloppy finishing, and the number of times that they have lost possession in midfield under modest pressure, usually from Die.

46 min: No substitution during the break. Mourinho is apparently so happy with how things are going that he stops to pose for some selfies with fans after re-emerging from the tunnel. And he’s got good reason to be confident: it’s hard to see Basel holding out for another 45 minutes.

Half-time: Basel 0-0 United

Without hitting top gear United have been dominant and should have scored at least one of the several good chances they created. Only carelessness can stop them getting the point they need to top this group; they should really head home with all three.

45 min: A corner is cleared as far as Rojo, who collects the ball about 35 yards out and decides to have a pop. It’s a thunderous effort and the keeper’s getting nowhere near it, especially after a slight deflection off a defender. But it crashes out off the crossbar!

44 min: Martial sprints on to a long pass as basel are caught upfield for once. He races past two defenders and tries to dink the ball over the advancing keeper. But Vaclic makes the save, parrying it out for a corner.

Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Basel’s Geoffroy Serey Die during the UEFA Champions League game.
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Basel’s Geoffroy Serey Die during the UEFA Champions League game. Photograph: Georgios Kefalas/EPA

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43 min: Martial fizzes in a lovely in-winging cross with his right foot after cutting in from the left. Fellaini gets his head to it but glances the ball a yard wide of the far post! That’s the second good chance he’s spurned. But he’ll get others, you can be sure of that. Basel have no clue how to handle him.

41 min: Pogba concedes a freekick about 38 yards out. Oberlin takes a mighty run-up ... and bogs the ball into the stands. That was nonsensical.

38 min: You would never know from watching this that Basel desperately need to win. All they can do at the moment is defending en masse and with a lot of difficulty. You sense that if United were to jack up the tempo here, they could crush the Swiss. But that’s not Mourinho’s style, is it? Their display so far is the exact opposite to Liverpool’s last night: they have a large degree of control but no pizazz or incision.

36 min: A foxy bit of skill down the left by Martial, who has been quiet so far. His cross from near the corner flag is easily cleared.

35 min: Pogba sends a long diagonal from half-way to the edge of the Basel area, where Fellaini heads it down to Lukaku. But the striker is outmuscled by Akanji, who effects the clearance. That’s impressive defending.

33 min: Pogba curls the freekick over the six-man wall .... but it drifts high and wide.

free kick taken by Manchester United’s Paul Pogba.
free kick taken by Manchester United’s Paul Pogba. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

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32 min: A foul by Die on Pogba gives United a freekick in a very promising position, just outside the D, a little to the right. Blind and Pogba both fancy it ...

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29 min: Blind sends a corner from the right beyond the far post. Vaclik palms it out for a corner on the other side. Blind takes this one, too. Die clears his outswinger near the penalty spot.

27 min: Rojo with another clearance at the near post from a cross from the right by Lang. Again it came after United coughed up possession in midfield, seemingly more out of complacency rather than the ferocity of Basel’s pressing.

26 min: What’s happening here, basically, is that United have Basel in a headlock and are content to just ruffle their hair in a patronising manner rather than finish them off. It’s not much of a spectacle, truth be told.

23 min: Zuffi interrupts a United attack and quickly releases Oberlin down the right. His cross is cut out at the near post by Rojo.

20 min: Lingard’s first touch has been heavy several times already. If he’s not careful he’ll get booked.

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18 min: United continue to lord it over their hosts, albeit it at a quite leisurely pace. They’re looking a class above. They only hint of danger from Basel comes when Die breaks up an attack in central midfield and tries to get a counter going, usually down the right.

16 min: Elyounoussi brings down Darmian with a late tackle, giving United a freekick to the right, about 35 yards out. Blind sends over an in-swinger. Fellaini meets it on the penalty spot ... and steers a header a couple of yards wide. He wasn’t under much pressure and could have done much better.

13 min: United are taking control, pushing Basel deeper and deeper.

11 min: Pogba pings a lovely low pass 30 yards forward to the feet of Lukaku. The striker holds off the last defender as he stomps into the box. The keeper hurries off his line to close down the angle ... and saves Lukaku’s low shot with his foot! Moments later the ball comes back into the box from the left. Fellaini sends a header towards the far corner from nine yards. No way the keeper is getting to this one! But Akanji comes to the rescue, heading superbly off the line!

9 min: Dié wins possession in midfield and feeds Elyounoussi, who spanks a good ball wide to Lang. His cross is blocked by Blind. But Basel regain possession and try another cross. This time Smalling nuts it away.

7 min: Both sides are still feeling each other out, it’s fair to say. “In Cuidad Del Este, Paraguya, my hotel tv has a choice: Man U or a live TV feed of the traffic queue on the border bridge to Brazil,” brags Alun Pugh. “Can readers offer an opinion on the more exciting option for the next 90?” Why does the talk always have to turn to traffic when Mourinho’s taking charge of an away match? OK, the midfield is congested in Basel at the moment but no one’s parked any buses yet.

Manchester United’s Anthony Martial in action with Basel’s Manuel Akanji.
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial in action with Basel’s Manuel Akanji. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

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5 min: A nicely finessed header by Lukaku plays the ball into the path of Lingard, who burst from midfield and now has a chance to thread a pass through to Martial at the edge of the box. But he gets his pass all wrong, tapping it straight to the nearest defender.

3 min: Basel’s pressing forces Fellaini into a mistake in his own half. The home side then quickly work the ball out wide to the right via Elyounoussi. A dangerous cross comes in from the right. Herrera clears it near the penalty spot as Elyounoussi readied a volley.

2 min: Contrary to the team sheet provided by Uefa, Blind is operating at left-back while Rojo is alongside Smalling in the middle.

1 min: We have kickoff! Basel do the necessary.

Correction: it’s not the ref who’s wearing the leggings; rather it’s the fourth and fifth officials, who presumably won’t be moving as much as the others.

Here come the teams. Basel are wearing their customary blue and red halves. United are wearing white shorts and socks and and off-white jerseys fading to grey. The officials are all in black, including leggings in the case of the referee. As they all stride out to the pitch, Pogba seems to be having a cheery natter with a young mascot: you’ve got to like his joie de vivre.

Mourinho speaks

Regarding his team selection he says: “In two [sic] days we are playing Brighton in the Premier League so I need to give some players a rest and others a chance.” Specifically about Romero, he says: “Last season he was amazing for us in the Europa League but this season he has not played and he deserves to. I trust my players.” And about Basel he says: “Basel has a certain tradition in European football to get some amazing results, like they did a few weeks ago against Benfica, when they beat them 5-0. So we know its going to be difficult.”

As you can see from the team sheets below, there;s good news for United as Marcos Rojo makes his first appearance of the season following injury. Lingard also starts: he is the only United player who goes into the game on a booking and, I note, bookmakers have put him as an odds-on favourite to pick up another yellow card today, an eventuality that would mean he misses a potentially meaningless last group game and go into the knockout stages with a clean slate.

TEAMS

Basel: Vaclik; Akanji, Suchy, Balanta; Dié, Zuffi; Steffen, Lang, Petretta, Elyounoussi; Oberlin

Subs: Salvi, Fransson, Ajeti, Riveros, Manzambi, Itten, Bua

United: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Herrera, Fellaini; Lingard, Pogba, Martial; Lukaku

Subs: Pereira, Lindelof, Ibrahimovic, Shaw, Rashford, McTominay, Matic

Referee: D Orsato (Italy)

Preamble

Hello and welcome. Manchester United have just about booked their place in the knockout stages but a draw or better in Switzerland today would ensure that they go through as winners of a decidedly modest group. Basel, who, like CSKA Moscow, are still fighting hard for a place in the last 16 and still have a notional chance of beating United to top spot, will do their utmost to make things difficult for Jose Mourinho’s team and they have a proud record of beating English teams at home in recent years, with victims including United in 2011 plus Chelsea, Liverpool and Middlesbrough (you could add Sheffield Wednesday to that list if you really wanted to, although the Owls took the 1995 Inter-Toto Cup match so seriously that they sent out a side featuring five ‘guest’ players, including John Pearson, who had left the club nine years previously).

The pitch could prove an additional complication today, as the surface at St-Jakob Park has been relaid since last week’s messy 0-0 draw between Northern Ireland and Switzerland. Even so, Jose Mourinho has declared that he intends to start with Paul Pogba, who has only just returned from his second hamstring injury in five months. That is certainly not a risk on a par with, say, giving a suffering player six injections before a friendly, but it might be a tad surprising given Pogba’s importance to United. Alternatively, it could be seen as a valuable opportunity for Pogba to hone his match sharpness, which is presumably the view that Mourinho has taken. The manager also said that Chris Smalling will start even though United can ill-afford an injury to another centreback at the moment. We, meanwhile, have nothing more onerous to do than sit back and see how it all pans out. Spiffing.

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