Manchester United laboured to a 1-1 draw with Basle at Old Trafford although Alex Ferguson’s decision to field a weakened line-up could be investigated by UEFA.
UEFA are expected to seek an explanation as to why Ferguson fielded a reserve side for last night’s game.
‘The rules state that clubs have to field their strongest teams even if they have already qualified,’ a UEFA spokesman said last night.
Gary Neville scoring his first ever Champions League goal to spare United’s blushes after Christian Gimenez had given the Swiss side a 13th minute lead. The defender, making a record 77th appearance in the competition scored after 52 minutes, his left foot shot taking a cruel deflection on route to goal.
Basle can still qualify as group runners-up, but they must beat Juventus by 4-0 or five clear goals next week to do so. However, coach Christian Gross believes it is possible.
“Football is a game that always surprises. It’s not necessarily the end. Today was a fantastic performance at Old Trafford and the team showed great confidence,” he said.
‘The result in Turin went against us but it doesn’t detract from an excellent performance here.”
Basel’s tactics paid off, as they stopped United gaining any kind of possession. And were rewarded when Gimenez slotted home from a Bernt Hass cross. But Basle were unable to sustain the pace of their first half work rate and United came back into the game in the second period.
Having started with a number of inexperienced players, a decision which could leave United in hot water with UEFA, manager Sir Alex Ferguson had to turn to his big name players to try and salvage the game – Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes all being introduced after half-time.
However, Ferguson was happy with a draw.
“We picked up the tempo in the second half and deserved the result,” he said.
“It was hard to choose a side to do us justice to make sure noone can point fingers at us.”
UEFA are to investigate Ferguson’s team selection, and could impose a fine and possibly a point deduction on the club – although this should make no difference to the outcome of the group.