They surrendered their winning run in the Champions League, but Manchester United are still all but through to the knockout stage.
A game Jose Mourinho claimed United should have been winning “5-0 or 6-0” by half-time ended with them losing to a smash and grab 89th-minute winner.
United were guilty of failing to take the numerous chances that came their way and paid the price with the late sucker punch that brought to an end their 100 per cent record in Europe this term.
Not even the late introduction of iconic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic , making his second appearance after a seven-month injury lay-off, could inspire United to the victory they craved.
Despite this galling loss, United’s place in the last 16 is virtually secure, with only defeat at home to CSKA Moscow by a huge margin on December 5 denying them progress.
A point at Old Trafford will confirm United as Group A winners, although that feat may not be enough to see them avoid the likes of holders Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus.
Those European heavyweights potentially lie in wait for United if Mourinho’s side top their group, confirming that finishing first is no guarantee of an easier task in the last 16.
Mourinho, who made seven changes from the side that swept aside Newcastle 4-1 last Saturday, saw this game as an opportunity to give players some much-needed respite, ahead of a gruelling period that sees them play 13 games in 40 days.
First-choice keeper David De Gea travelled with the squad to Basel but was rested, watching from the stands at the St Jakob Stadium, with Sergio Romero in goal and Joel Pereira on the bench.
Marcos Rojo, who like Ibrahimovic suffered a cruciate ligament injury in the same game back in April, made his first appearance for seven months and played the full 90 minutes.
United conjured the first chance in the 12th minute, Paul Pogba threading a sublime reverse pass through to Romelu Lukaku, who saw his shot blocked by goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.
Daley Blind seized on the loose ball, crossing for Marouane Fellaini, whose angled header looked like it was going in, until Manuel Akanji cleared it off the line to let the hosts off the hook again.
Fellaini came close to opening the scoring again four minutes later, getting on the end of a free-kick from Blind, only to direct his header wide of the target.
It was to be a recurring theme for United, who were in control but unable to turn that dominance into the hard currency of a goal.
Pogba wasted a free-kick from 20 yards out after he had been upended, United’s club record £89million signing floating the subsequent set-piece over the bar.
United ended the first-half with a flurry of chances, Anthony Martial crossing for Fellaini, who made it a hat-trick of missed headers when his glancing effort clipped a post.
Martial then scampered through on goal, leaving his pursuers in his wake, but was unable to beat Vaclik, who blocked his angled effort, before Rojo thudded a long-range effort against the bar.
United began the second-half as they ended the first – on the front foot, Lukaku failing to find the target after Martial’s enticing cross left him with a free header.
Basel were restricted to half-chances, Serey Die flashing a shot just wide of Romero’s left-hand post five minutes after the restart, latching on to Fellaini’s headed clearance.
Renato Steffen then went close for the home side, cutting in from the right and steering a shot just wide of Romero’s far post.
United continued to live dangerously, allowing Michael Lang to clip the bar with a close-range header, as Mourinho’s side seemed not to know whether to go for the win or take the draw.
That uncertainty ultimately cost them as Blind was beaten to the ball at the far post by Lang, who steered it over the line to send the home fans into delirium and make United wait.
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