Report: Manchester United lose in Basel with all to play for against CSKA Moscow

Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Basel in the UEFA Champions League despite United dominating the first half with many chances, three fell to Marouane Fellaini alone. United could have confirmed their place in the knockout stages, but will now have to go all out for the point, or victory over CSKA Moscow in the final group stage match, which is sandwiched between a trip to Arsenal and the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho made seven changes to the team which started against Newcastle United on Saturday. Sergio Romero, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, and Jesse Lingard all returned to the starting XI with Lingard making his 100th appearance for United. Paul Pogba captained the side whilst Chris Smalling, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku were the only players to face both Newcastle and Basel.

United started well against the Swiss side, getting forward and pressuring their opposition. In the seventh minute if the match, Mohamed Elyounoussi burst into the United box but the defence thwarted his chance to create something for the home side. United had the chance to take first blood in the 12th minute of the match after Marouane Fellaini, on his birthday, aimed his headed shot on target, which was going in at the far post only for the effort to be cleared before it had crossed the line.

United won a free-kick in the 16th minute of the match, which Daley Blind took. Fellaini made the connection with his head but could not direct it on target with Basel regaining possession of the ball. United were dominating the match, as they have every other in the UEFA Champions League this season, and beyond, but were still seeking that opening goal of the evening, having a taste of it a few times in the opening twenty minutes of the game.

In the 28th minute of the match, Lingard, on his 100th appearances for United, unleashed his effort from just outside of the penalty area but it was deflected wide by Basel resulting in a corner, which threatened but nothing became of it. 90 seconds later, United had won another corner, something the Basel players were finding hard to deal with, despite giving them away so often in this match. United won a free-kick after Pogba was fouled at the edge of the Basel area with Pogba and Blind standing over the ball – both wanting it.

Pogba took the free-kick, but could not find the accuracy with his effort heading over the crossbar. United had many chances to break the deadlock after the free-kick, with Fellaini having the opportunity to score a hat-trick himself. In the 35th minute, Lingard threaded a great pass in behind the Basel defence which released Matteo Darmian into a great crossing position. The Italian put far too much on the cross which Blind unable to keep the ball in play.

A minute later, Anthony Martial spun away from Manuel Akanji and crossed the ball low in the near-post area with Lingard lurking in the area. Marek Suchy was alert to the danger so he hacked the ball out of the danger area. United broke forward again minutes later, which left Basel’s defence out of position and running back to their area. Elyounoussi tripped Lingard which won United a free-kick. Blind took the free-kick, putting it into the Basel area but it was dealt with before it reached Fellaini.

United had an effort off the post in the 42nd minute of the match through Fellaini after Martial cut in off the flank and floated a delightful ball into the Belgian. United were banging on the door and Basel would need to stand firm to take this into the break without conceding. In the 44th minute, Martial burst forward from deep, fought against two Basel defenders and got away before he reached the six-yard box where Tomas Vaclik tipped his effort behind.

In the last minute of the game, United had another chance which came off the crossbar after Marcos Rojo, making his return from seven months out with a knee injury, had the audacious striker from 30-yards, catching it well. The ball took a deflection off Suchy before clattering the crossbar. United should have been a few goals to the good in that half, ending it still seeking that opening goal. United will be confident of their position in the round of 16, needing a point to get there, which is currently in the bag.

At the start of the second half there were no changes from either manager. Basel created the opportunity to threaten United at the start of the half with Michael Lang whipping his cross into the United area where Elyounoussi got ahead of Chris Smalling coming close to burying his effort past Sergio Romero. United had a good chance at the other end of the pitch with Martial crossing for Romelu Lukaku but he could not keep the resulting header down.

Basel created another opportunity, pushing United deep into their own half. Serey Die put in a thundering shot from outside of the box, Romero made the dive but the attempt was wide of the target. Mourinho sent some substitutes out to warm up with Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay – seemingly a change on the cards. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent to warm up moments later, an obvious sign Mourinho had something on the cards with his team still unable to score.

In the 56th minute of the match, Die had the ball, having taken the game by the scruff of the neck and created something for Renato Steffen, who picked up the ball inside the United half registering Basel’s second shot on target this evening but Romero was partial to the ball, thwarting the effort. Basel won a corner after Fellaini was adjudged to commit a foul, the free-kick was taken, United tried to clear it with Basel picking up the ball and making a shot on goal, which Romero saved. Moments later, another effort was made – wide.

Mourinho made a change in the 64th minute of the match with Jesse Lingard being replaced by Marcus Rashford – keeping his run of playing in every Manchester United match this season, all 20 so far. Just after the change, Pogba had a shot on target, which Vaclik saved and thwarted United’s chance of opening the scoring. Mourinho made his second change of the evening with Paul Pogba being replaced by Nemanja Matic in the 66th minute.

Basel started to create opportunities after the double substitution Mourinho made which two shots in quick succession with Lang’s headed effort careering off the bar after he got the better of Blind then Elyounoussi followed that up with a low drive which called Romero into another diving save. United would need to take charge of this fixture, or it could be that Basel found the goal they craved which would leave United having to wait until the sixth match in just under a fortnight to decide their fate in the competition.

Basel nearly got a penalty, or so they had wished after it seemed like Rojo had taken a player down in the box, which after the reply looked more like a dive. Ibrahimovic was readying himself for his second appearance in seven months. In the 72nd minute, Basel were pushing for the elusive goal and Rojo put in a fine last-ditch tackle to deny the goalscoring opportunity. United, through Martial, gained some ground with some good interplay with Herrera and Rashford on the edge of the box, the latter having a shot, which was just wide.

In the 74th minute of the match, Martial made way for Ibrahimovic with United still seeking that goal to win them the match. In the 77th minute, Die had a chance to score a stunning goal which forced Romero to make a diving save, doing just that but with Die injuring himself. Basel got a corner, with Die going off for treatment, with United making the clearance, then Basel breaking forward and being flagged for offside, free-kick to United.

In the 79th minute of the match, Die had to be stretchered off and replaced by Alexander Fransson. Matic was deemed to have fouled Elyounoussi at the edge of United’s box with five minutes remaining, the Norwegian falling to the ground holding his face. The referee gave nothing and play was continued to a point. The player suggested Matic elbowed him, when it was just a forearm, not put backwards with much menace. Play acting at its best by Elyounoussi.

In the 88th minute, Lukaku and Ibrahimovic combined dangerously but the Swede could not find the target with his effort. At the other end of the pitch, Basel scored what could be the winner in the 89th minute of the match through Lang, who scored from close-range. United had it all in the bag to qualify tonight, but this will mean they have to ensure victory or a draw over CSKA Moscow to earn a knockout stage place – which will be sandwiched between a trip to Arsenal and the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Rojo, Blind; Herrera, Fellaini; Lingard (Rashford 64′), Pogba (Matic 66′), Martial (Ibrahimovic 74′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Pereira; Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay

Bookings: Matteo Darmian 83′

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