Sir Alex Ferguson and Christian Gross agreed that Ruud Van Nistelroooy was the difference between the two sides, as the Dutch striker scored twice and andset up a third in Manchester United”s 3-1 win over Basle.

“Van Nistelrooy decided the game today,” Gross admitted.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson agreed, stating: “He is capable of that, I think he has won the match for us tonight. You cannot dispute his finishing.”

“We were stronger and we were better, I think our first goal killed them a bit.”

“We know that by Christmas our injured players will be back,’ Ferguson added. ‘It gives us a full squad, where we will have fresh players in the second half of the season.”

Gorss, who watched his side take the lead after just 31 seconds, only to be pegged back by three second-half strikes in the space of seven minutes, refused to criticise his plaers.

“I am not going to blame any of my players for tonight,” he said.

“We had a great start, we had the lead, and we were confident – we could even have scored the second goal,” he added.

“They had more possession, but created few chances in the first half. But in football the goals count, not chances.

“In moments like these, you see how strong the character of the players is – we did perform well tonight, but, unfortunately, we could not overperform.”

“When their injured players come back, they will be even stronger,” he said.

“I think they can make the final. They have a lot of class, they are a fantastic side.”