Manchester United is out of the UEFA Champions League, thanks to a fantastic performance by FC Basel at home in Switzerland. There was plenty of late drama, with United pushing hard for an equalizer, but Basel held on to record a massive 2-1 victory to get themselves into the knockout stages of the competition.
It took just eight minutes for Basel to take the lead through Marco Streller. Xherdan Shaqiri, almost certainly the man of the match, made the chance with a cross into the box. David De Gea deflected the ball away with a kick, but it fell right to Streller, who hit a fantastic volley into the back of the net.
United looked slow and lacking in ambition for a few minutes afterwards, but really picked up the pace in the 30th minute. For the final 15 minutes of the first half, it appeared that an equalizer was inevitable, but it never came. Wayne Rooney missed four different shooting opportunities, while Nani's tricks down the wing never resulted in any real clear-cut goal scoring chances. Just before the halftime whistle blew, Nemanja Vidic went down with an injury and Johnny Evans came on.
The Red Devils came out guns blazing in the second half, with Rooney missing another golden opportunity in the 49th minute. Basel almost gave up the equalizer in disastrous fashion in the 60th minute, when Markus Steinhöfer powered a clearance off his own crossbar. Basel regularly had 10 of their 11 players in the penalty area in the second half, occasionally breaking out to counter-attack.
Their second goal came on the counter in the 84th minute, and it was once again Shaqiri who provided the setup. From the right wing, he cut onto his favored left foot and hit an in-swinging cross towards the six-yard area. Marco Streller appeared to get a slight touch on the ball with his head, but it was Alexander Frei who provided the finish with a header at the back post to make it 2-0.
It felt like Basel had it sealed up at that point, but United got one back in bizarre fashion. After substitute Federico Macheda smacked the crossbar, Phil Jones put a goal just over the line on a follow-up header in the 89th minute, with Yann Sommer just barely failing to stop the ball from crossing the line.
The referee gave three minutes of stoppage time in which United pushed everyone forward, but they were unable to find the equalizer that they needed to qualify for the knockout stages. The final whistle blew with the scoreboard reading 2-1 to Basel, and the Red Devils will be going to the Europa League. Basel have become the first team from Switzerland to qualify for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages and will join Benfica in qualifying from Group C.