Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes the spirit in which AC Milan and his side play the game should ensure there is no repeat of the disciplinary heartache Paul Scholes and Roy Keane suffered in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League eight years ago.
Trio on edge
Both players missed United's 2-1 victory against FC Bayern München in the 1999 final after collecting yellow cards in the second leg of their last-four triumph against Juventus. With United players Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gabriel Heinze all one booking away from a suspension that would rule them out of the Athens showpiece, Sir Alex hopes history will not repeat itself. "I think it's a tragedy to miss a final," he said, as his team aim to build on last week's thrilling 3-2 victory.
"My biggest confidence is in AC Milan because I don't think they're a team who do anything bad to get players booked because there's no point to it. Neither team benefits because we don't play each other again. It's a semi-final so it can only help the opponents in the final. From what I've seen in the last two games against AC Milan - the last game, and the two before, two years ago [in the first knockout round] - there was absolutely no evidence of anything wrong. You only have to see the manner and spirit in which the game was played in Manchester. I think it was a credit to both sets of players and their professionalism, and I expect the same tomorrow. I'll be in Athens no matter, whether it's with United or to see the final, and I think a tournament like that should get the best players."
UEFA President Michel Platini praised both clubs for the style in which the first leg was played, describing the match as a "thrilling spectacle" and a "positive advertisement for European football". They are comments Carlo Ancelotti clearly took to heart. "I'm pleased he said that because, at the moment, it is very important to represent Italian football in the best way," said the Milan coach. "We need to follow the example of other countries in order to improve the situation at home."
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