Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted to have avoided Real Madrid CF in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Tuesday's 3-0 win against Boavista FC confirmed United's place at the top of Group A and ensured that they would not come up against the Spanish champions in the next round of the competition. "We're in the quarter-finals and we're happy to be there," said the Scot. "I just wanted to avoid Real Madrid at this moment in time."
Superb away performance
In a game where his side put on a supreme display of counterattacking football, Sir Alex was pleased by the way that his side contained their opponents. "It was a quiet game," he said. "In the first half we played 15 or 20 minutes of very good football and overall it was one of our best performances in an away game in the Champions League. They had possession of the ball but they couldn't create any good chances."
Looking ahead to Friday's quarter-final draw, Sir Alex considered the possibility of Arsenal FC - who play tomorrow - joining Liverpool FC and United in the hat. "I think it would be great for England if they could get three teams in the quarter-finals, but I wouldn't say that was the reason why we are in European football," he said. "But you can't pick your opponents and if we get Liverpool or Arsenal then fine. We see them so often, though, that it wouldn't be the same."
"It depends on how Arsenal do but I think we'll get either Arsenal, Liverpool, [FC] Porto or Panathinaikos [FC]," added the United manager. "We played against Panathinaikos two years ago and they are a good side. We were lucky to win in Athens with a goal in the very last minute. We have played against Porto too but their team has changed completely since then. I am not sure which team I would prefer in the next round."
Praise from Pacheco
Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco, while disappointed with his own side's performance at the Bessa stadium, had nothing but praise for their opponents and the competition they bowed out of.
'A better side than us'
"We could use all kinds of excuses but the truth is that we started well and then lost our concentration," said Pacheco. "United are a better side than us and they are possibly the best side in Europe and we have to say that we deserved to lose. It is a consolation in a way that we have gone out to a side that are the potential champions of the competition but it was an honour to be involved in such a great competition. Now we must concentrate on our league form."
'We will try to be back'
Boavista midfield player Petit said: "We knew it would be hard against the best team in Europe and we have to accept that we are not yet ready to take on a team like United. I am delighted with the good things that have come out of playing in the Champions League and we will try to be back next year."
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