Champions League - Young rescues draw for poor United

Tue, 27 Sep 21:39:00 2011

Ashley Young rescued a 3-3 draw for Manchester United against Basel after the English champions blew a 2-0 lead in a breathless Champions League Group C match at Old Trafford.

Ashley Young scores - 0

With four minutes of injury time signalled and United trailing 3-2 to the Swiss visitors, Young popped up unmarked at the back post to head home substitute Nani's cross and prevent United falling to only a third defeat at home in their 54 matches in the tournament.

Despite carving out a 2-0 lead at the break courtesy of Danny Welbeck's goals on 16 and 17 minutes, United were fortunate to escape with a point as Basel cut through Sir Alex Ferguson's side several times throughout the evening without putting the finishing touches to their good work.

Fabian Frei gave Basel fresh hope in the match when he drilled the ball beyond home keeper David De Gea via a post on 58 minutes before crossing for his namesake Alexander to head home a superb equaliser a couple of minutes later.

The Swiss champions moved ahead on the night when Alexander Frei sent De Gea the wrong way from the penalty spot after Antonio Valencia had clumsily clipped the imposing Marco Streller in the home box.

Basel seemed likely to hold out for a famous three points until Young converted his first goal in the Champions League to prevent the home side from falling to an embarrassing defeat.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson described the match as a "wake-up call" for his side having avoided falling to a first defeat in any competition since Chelsea left Old Trafford with a 2-1 victory in the Premier League 17 months ago.

Basel made their intentions clear from the opening moments with both of their full-backs encouraged to bomb on whenever possible. Fabian Frei should have netted on five minutes when he was sent clear in the box only to miss the target - a theme that was to haunt Basel's night.

United began warming to their task and grabbed the lead when Fabio - who was injured before hobbling off to be replaced by Nani in the second half - picked out Ryan Giggs, who supplied Welbeck to score with a shot that seemed to take forever to trundle into the net via a post.

United made it two a minute later when Giggs's ball into the heart of the Basel box enabled Welbeck to convert with a goal of some simplicity.

Despite the 2-0 lead, Ferguson's men never looked comfortable as Alexander Frei knocked wide of goal when he should have scored from Streller's pass before Jacques Zoua walloped the ball into the side of the United goal from another inventive Streller ball.

Play continued to rage from end to end with Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand looking as if they had just met each other for the first time at the heart of the United defence. Ferdinand was fortunate to avoid a red card when he seemed to foul Alexander Frei on the edge of his box as the Swiss forward looked set to speed in on goal moments after Basel had made it 2-1.

Alexander Frei headed over the bar on 35 minutes before Valencia forced the visiting goalkeeper Yann Sommer to make a timely stop before half-time sounded with United leading.

Somehow United's goal remained intact on 50 minutes as Streller accepted a pass from Zoua. He looked certain to score only for De Gea to make an astonishing stop from close range.

Giggs had the opportunity to give United a 3-0 lead when he shot straight at Sommer with Welbeck waiting for a tap-in on 52 minutes.

Basel struck their first of the night courtesy of Fabian Frei after De Gea had blocked Streller's powerful header from Alexander Frei's corner. It prompted a final 30 minutes of some mayhem that left Ferguson smiling with a sense relief at full-time.

In keeping with the almost farcical nature of a frantic closing few minutes, De Gea was relieved to see a clearance from Aleksandar Dragovic from inside the Basel half miss his right-hand post by inches as he struggled to get back after Welbeck saw a header fly narrowly wide at the other end.

Basel and Benfica - who won 1-0 at Otelul Galati - lead Group C on four points after two games with United back in third spot on two points. Galati are bottom after two defeats.


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