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United 3 Basel 3: Young’s Late Strike Denies Swiss Famous Victory

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A goal deep into second-half injury time from Ashley Young denied Swiss side Basel from pulling of arguably their most famous victory in European competition as a thrilling Champions League game at Old Trafford ended in a sensational 3-3 draw.

Surprisingly in the absence of Wayne Roooney and Javier Hernandez, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to start Danny Welbeck up top with Ryan Giggs which meant that Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen (the pair who most fans and pundits felt would start) would be left on the bench.

Basel’s Fabien Frei had the first meainful shot of the night shooting over inside the area. That woke Manchester United up and after a spell of pressure which saw Young force Yann Sommer into a save from an Antonio Valenica, they went into the lead. A slick passing move ended with Fabio being picked out by Valencia inside the area. The Brazilian cut the ball back across the area where Giggs helped it onto Welbeck on his Champions League debut who scuffed in a shot which made its way into the net of the post.  

A minute later Welbeck had scored his and United’s second goal. Another slick move by United ended with Ryan Giggs putting in a low cross into the area which the big striker marking his first start for the club since his injury suffered against Arsenal last month finished home coolly. 18 minutes in and he’d scored twice. That’s some start to a Champions League debut.

Fans inside Old Trafford thinking that they were about to witness a rout were beginning to re-think their thoughts after Basel on three occasions went close to scoring in a matter of minutes.  First Alexander Frei (no relation to Fabien) went close to scoring twice in a matter of minutes but shot over and wide when he should have tested David De Gea in goal before Jacques Zoua blasted wide after a poor clearance from United’s Spanish keeper .

The half ended though with United looking for a third and after Welbeck had fired a tame shot at Sommer, the keeper made a fantastic save getting a leg out to a powerful shot from close range from Valencia after Young had dashed down the left and pulled the ball back into the area.

To be fair to Basel, anyone inside Old Trafford that thought that they would be unable to muster a challenge after half-time were to be proved wrong instantly at the start of the second half. After De Gea diverted a Marco Streller shot over the bar after sloppy defending by Fabio, they deservedly got a goal back.

An inswinging corner from the left was headed goalwards by Streller. De Gea did well to save the strikers’ header but the ball came out to Fabian Frei who smashed the ball in off the post to the joy of the travelling Basel supporters.

Those same supporters hadn’t finished celebrating the goal when two minutes later Basel equalised. Sloppy play again in the United defence allowed Streller to deliver a ball into the area which Alexander Frei away from his marker Rio Ferdinand was able to head powerfully past De Gea and into the net. The Spaniard got his f

With United now looking more likely in conceding a third than their opponents, Sir Alex took of Ryan Giggs and brought on Park Ji-Sung and brought on Nani for the injured Fabio which meant that Valencia switched to right-back.  The Ecuadorian has great defensive skills but ended up giving away a penalty after bringing down Streller inside the area after a poor clearance from Phil Jones. Alexander Frei fired home from the spot sending De Gea the wrong way to put the visitors ahead.

Two minutes after going behind Dimitar Berbatov was brought on for Anderson for United’s final substitution of the night. After Young went down in the area following an excellent run by Jones and a penalty rightly was not given by the referee it looked as if United would indeed be falling to a shock defeat.

However a wonderful ball in the last minute by Nani on the wing picked out Young at the far post who did enough to head the ball past Sommer to grab United an equaliser. Despite both sides pressing for a winner in the remaining time available, there was to be no late winner.

It had been a great performance from ex-Bayern Munich midfielder Thortsen Fink’s Basel but just like he found out at the Nou Camp in 1999, United to have a habit of scoring late on in the big-occasion. It’s almost a given at times.

United: De Gea, Evra, Jones, Ferdinand, Fabio (Nani), Valencia, Carrick, Anderson (Berbatov), Young, Giggs (Park), Welbeck

Star Man

Basel’s Fabian Frei came close to winning this award, but it’s hard to look past Danny Welbeck’s contribution last night. The England forward led the line well, fully showing why Sir Alex was right to pick him ahead of Dimitar Berbatov. He took his two goals well and worked his socks off showing that if he continues to develop, Old Trafford is going to be witnessing a very special local player for many years to come. The future’s bright for Danny, the future’s bright. 

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87