United made seven changes, including the return of the third of his comeback stars.
Marcos Rojo followed Paul Pogbaand Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s comeback on Saturday by making his first appearance since rupturing cruciate ligaments in April.
CSKA Moscow’s win over Benfica hours earlier meant the Swiss hosts needed to beat United to keep alive their qualification hopes for the last-16.
But you would never have guessed it from their tame performance in a first half United totally dominated.
Jose Mourinho’s team should have been home and hosed by the break but Marouane Fellaini missed three chances to claim a hat-trick of headers.
Seconds later, Anthony Martial and Pogba worked the ball out to Daley Blind who crossed for Fellaini to power his header towards the far corner only for Manuel Akanji to scramble back and hook the ball off the line.
Basel did not heed the warning about Fellaini’s danger from crosses because they left him unmarked again from Blind’s free-kick and were fortunate he sent his header a yard wide when he should have scored.
Fellaini missed his third headed chance when he could not get enough purchase on Martial’s cross and glanced his effort onto the outside of the post.
Despite the pre-match concerns about a pitch that had been re-laid after Northern Ireland’s recent World Cup play-off exit to Switzerland, the surface was fine.
United were able to ping the ball about with some comfort and continued to ask all the questions.They hit the woodwork again when Rojo’s 30-yard blockbuster deflected off Marek Suchy’s head and struck the crossbar.
In truth, it had been so one-sided it should have been 3-0 or 4-0 at the break.
United started the second half as they had finished the first period by missing another chance. This time the culprit was not Fellaini but Lukaku whose header flew wide from Martial’s cross.
Basel took encouragement from United’s wastefulness and for the first time started to show some real attacking threat.