Basel: Manchester United, Champions League finalists in three of the last four seasons, were knocked out of the group stage after a humbling 2-1 loss at FC Basel on Wednesday, one of their unhappiest nights in European competition.
 
Marco Streller and Alexander Frei, who both quit the Switzerland national team this year, scored early and late to take the Swiss champions beyond the group stage for the second time in four attempts.   

Phil Jones scrambled a late goal for lacklustre United, for whom winger Nani carried the most attacking threat as striker Wayne Rooney had another frustrating evening.   

It was only the third time in 17 Champions League participations, all under manager Alex Ferguson, that United had failed to progress beyond the group stage.   

While Basel and their boisterous fans celebrated as if they had won the competition itself, United were left to contemplate playing in the much-maligned Europa League.   

Basel players mobbed coach Heiko Vogel, who had no experience as coach of a senior side when he took over in November following the departure of Thorsten Fink to Hamburg SV.   

Basel, who had looked utterly out of their depth in a 2-0 home defeat by Benfica earlier in the group, snatched second place in Group C with 11 points, one behind the Portuguese side, while United were third with nine.   

The visitors were left to rue their 3-3 draw at home to Basel when they squandered a 2-0 halftime lead.   

"I'm very, very proud," Vogel told reporters. "Tactically, mentally, physically it was extraordinary. I will leave the superlatives to you."   

Ferguson admitted that the Europa League would be a new experience.   

"It's a competition I've never been in with United, it means a lot of Sunday games, that's not ideal but that's our penalty for not qualifying tonight," he told reporters.   

"Of course, we're disappointed, there's no other way you can feel. We had so much possession up to the last third of the field. Some of our play up to that point was very good, you have to say our finishing let us down."   

Needing only a draw to qualify, United were quickly in trouble when De Gea misjudged Xherdan Shaqiri's cross and prodded the ball with his foot straight to Streller who scored from close range despite mis-hiting his shot.   

United still had plenty of time to put things right and dominated the game, although, with the impish Shaqiri in midfield, Basel were always dangerous in attack.   

Rooney, who scored two goals in England's 3-1 win over Switzerland at the same stadium last year, nearly levelled with a shot on the turn from Ryan Giggs's pass which was well stopped by Yann Sommer.   

He missed an outstanding chance just after the break when another Giggs pass sent him clear down the left but he shot wide of the far post.   

Rooney, who has gone eight games without scoring, also headed over from close range from Chris Smalling's cross and curled another shot just wide from outside the area.   

Nani's runs down the right were by far United's most dangerous weapon, although the nearest United came to an equaliser was when Basel defender Markus Steinhoefer crashed an attempted clearance against the underside of the bar.   

Frei, Switzerland's record goalscorer who has spent a good part of his career at Basel, nearly added a second with a chipped free kick which was superbly turned over by De Gea.   

The 32-year-old fittingly grabbed the decisive goal in the 84th minute, scoring at the far post after the United defence misjudged Shaqiri's inswinging cross.   

Jones scrambled one back five minutes later but it was too late.   

(Agencies)