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Disappointment for Basel

Gimenez shows his disappointment after failing to score in the second half

(Keystone)

Swiss champions FC Basel have lost 3-1 to Manchester United in their first game of the second round of the European Champions League.

After an early goal by Basel, the English side proved too strong for the home side, scoring three goals in quick succession in the second half.

The game, played in front of a sell-out crowd at St Jakob's park, began well for Basel when Christian Gimenez fired in a goal after just 33 seconds - one of the fastest in Champions League history.

But Manchester came back strongly in the second half, with two goals in 90 seconds from the Dutch player, Ruud van Nistelrooy, in the 62nd and 63rd minutes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compounded Basel's misery with a third goal after 68 minutes.

Disappointment

Basel trainer Christian Gross expressed his disappointment at the result, rueing the fact that his team had been unable to build on their early lead.

"We deserved a better result. We came very close to making it 2-0, and played even better at the beginning of the second half than in the first half," he said.

"Then we were too euphoric and not clear-headed enough. We were punished for this by a top-class team and a world-class player in Ruud Van Nistelrooy."

"I am still thinking about the first-class chance that Gimenez had after half-time, which was saved by Barthez," added Gross.

Double Dutch

Van Nistelrooy, whose inspirational display was rewarded by two classy goals, said the Swiss side had made United work hard for their victory.

"They are a good team. We had a tough night," he told Swiss television.

United were without several stars on the night: David Beckham, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Nicky Butt, Roy Keane and Laurent Blanc were all missing through injury.

And United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that the trip to Basel has been anything but a walk in the park.

"We rode our luck at times," he said. "Goals change games. I've seen it many times and that's what happened tonight.

"Their opening goal set them up and our first goal knocked them back again."

Set-back

For Basel's Christian Gross, it was very much a question of what might have been after previous victories in the competition over Liverpool and Celtic.

It was the team's first home defeat of the season and they will now have to pick themselves up quickly before Saturday's crucial top-of-the-table clash against Grasshoppers Zurich.

Basel became the first Swiss team to qualify for the second round of Europe's premier club competition after a dramatic 3-3 draw in their final first-round game against Liverpool.

The result meant Basel finished in second place in their group behind Spanish club Valencia.

Basel's other home games in the Champions League are on February 19 against Juventus and March 18 against Deportivo La Coruña. The Swiss will head to Italy on December 11, Spain on February 25 and England on March 12 forb the return matches.

swissinfo


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