October 28, 2020

Tough night in Europe for Manchester sides


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Sir Alex Ferguson

Despite a self-destructive defensive display Sir Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United “did not deserve” to draw 2-2 with Benfica in a result which leaves their Champions League qualification in the balance.

Manchester United, last season’s Champions League runners-up, paid a heavy price for two calamitous defensive blunders and now need a draw in their final Group C match at Basle to advance.

Benfica top the group on nine points, level with United and one point ahead of Swiss side Basle who must beat Ferguson’s side to progress.

The three-times European champions got off to the worst possible start when Phil Jones turned Nicolas Gaitan’s left-foot cross into his own net in the third minute.

United pulled one back through Dimitar Berbatov’s 30th-minute header and went ahead courtesy of a Darren Fletcher goal in the 59th minute.

But another defensive error gifted Pablo Aimar an equaliser two minutes later.

“We didn’t deserve what happened tonight,” Ferguson told a post-match press conference. “We did well, it is hard when (you concede) a goal so early in the match. It took us a bit of time to get going again.”

Ferguson refused to contemplate not qualifying from Group C but admitted United will face tougher opponents if they reach the knock out stage.

“It makes it a bit harder of course but look at it a different way the bigger may suit us anyway. There is a possibility that we are in that situation that we are second place because I don’t think Benfica will lose to Otelul Galati, Im sure they will win that match. So then the opportunities are against Inter or Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, and you have to judge it in this way – if you played them in semi final or final you
would be only too delighted to know that you have the possibility to win, and the other teams will know that too,” he said.

Roberto Mancini

Meanwhile Manchester City’s nine-match unbeaten run counted for nothing on Tuesday when they conceded two “stupid” goals to lose 2-1 at Napoli as the debutants learned they really should not try to run before they can walk.

Aiming to qualify from the group at the first time of asking would be a bold move for any team but in City’s case it had looked a reasonable target given their stunning start to the Premier League campaign and huge outlay on quality players.

To stay in the continent’s elite club competition they need to beat Group C winners Bayern Munich in their final game at home next month, while also hoping Napoli do not defeat already eliminated Villarreal.

“I give 70 percent chance to Napoli and 30 percent chance to us,” was Mancini’s frank and possibly optimistic assessment of the situation given Villarreal have yet to pick up a point.

“We should still believe because it is my opinion that Villarreal can get a result against Napoli.”

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