Basel's Alex Frei celebrates after scoring the second goal during their Champions League Group C soccer match against Manchester United at the St. Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, Switzerland.
Basel's Alex Frei celebrates after scoring the second goal during their Champions League Group C soccer match against Manchester United at the St. Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, Switzerland.

Manchester, united in mourning

By MARC PADGETT Time of article published Dec 8, 2011

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Manchester will awake with a giant hangover this morning, but the more sore heads will be on the red side of the city after United and City crashed out of the Champions League on another astonishing night of drama in the Champions League.

City's exit was half-expected but, in one of the biggest shocks for many a year, they were joined at the departure gates by their arch-rivals as United were sensationally sent packing by Basle. The Swiss side stunned Sir Alex Ferguson's men with a 2-1 victory which sent them and Benfica through from Group C, and the Reds' fans must come to the realisation that this has been United's worst European campaign during Ferguson's reign.

Marco Streller put Basle 1-0 up early on after United's keeper David de Gea could only parry winger Xherdan Shaqiri's cross - after Chris Smalling and Nemanja Vidic clashed with each other in the area - and the Swiss striker volleyed home.

Then after more than an hour of almost constant United pressure - although very few chances, save for Wayne Rooney's inexplicable air shot from inside the six-yard box, United were caught with a sucker punch near the end as Shaqiri swung over another cross and it was headed home at the back post by Fabian Frei. Phil Jones pulled one back in the 89th minute with a header which crept over the line but this time there was no last-minute United comeback.

At the Etihad Stadium, City beat Bayern Munich 2-0 with goals from David Silva and Yaya Touré, but it was not enough to qualify from Group A as Napoli also recorded a 2-0 win at Villarreal, which means the Italians and Germans progress. City join a select band of clubs who have failed to qualify with 10 points.

So City and United both finish third in the group and can now look forward to playing in the Europa League on Thursday nights. Expect the chants from rival fans to start this weekend. - The Independent

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