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Sir Alex frustrated by United fragility

Published: Wednesday 8 April 2009
Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson said FC Porto's late equaliser at Old Trafford "exemplified the fragile nature of our defence" while opposite number Jesualdo Ferreira thinks progress is in their grasp.
by Nick Aitken
from Old Trafford
Sir Alex frustrated by United fragility
Sir Alex Ferguson was not happy with Porto's equaliser ©Getty Images

Match statistics

Man. UnitedPorto

Goals scored2
Attempts on target8
Attempts off target4
Fouls committed12
Yellow cards0
Red cards0


Published: Wednesday 8 April 2009

Sir Alex frustrated by United fragility

Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson said FC Porto's late equaliser at Old Trafford "exemplified the fragile nature of our defence" while opposite number Jesualdo Ferreira thinks progress is in their grasp.

Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson was left to rue costly defensive lapses as Mariano's late goal gave FC Porto a 2-2 UEFA Champions League quarter-final first-leg draw at Old Trafford. Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira, meanwhile, heaped praise on his side and believes they have a realistic chance of going even further in this year's competition.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager
It's a difficult job now, I agree. The last goal we lost was one you can't afford to lose. It was a terrible goal to lose. At 2-1 we should have seen the game out, we've only ourselves to blame. It wasn't a particularly well manufactured goal. It exemplified the fragile nature of our defence at moment. I don't think we'd have lost the goal had we not lost Jonny Evans. We'd moved [John] O'Shea into centre-back, [Gary] Neville got sucked in and it was a bad goal. We'd been doing well when we were not conceding goals because of the record, we had something to protect. Since we lost the record against Blackburn we've lost a lot of bad goals. [Rio] Ferdinand wasn't close to playing tonight, I'm not sure if he'll be fit for Saturday. We took a gamble by playing on Sunday [against Aston Villa FC] but it wasn't the best preparation. We showed tiredness tonight. Based on the international matches I'd thought it was the best option, I thought the adrenalin from a European occasion would see us through.

I'm not surprised by Porto, this is the way they've been playing away from home. The game against Atlético Madrid was exactly the same, their front three were a handful then and a handful tonight. It was a typical [Carlos] Tévez goal, he's very good at the near post, and was great flick from [Wayne] Rooney. We gave the ball away a lot early on, we were nervous and took half an hour to get our game going. In the second half we were more in control. They were always a threat, counterattacked in numbers. The second half became very open. It's to the European game's credit that teams counter in numbers away from home now, not like ten years ago. We have to win in Porto. No English team has won there but we've got a good set of players and a good chance of being the first.

Jesualdo Ferreira, Porto coach
I would like to congratulate my players because they deserved what they achieved. We never forgot we were playing against the reigning world and European champions but we tried to create problems for United and we managed to do that. It's a good result to take to the Dragão but the tie's not settled yet. It's great to see two players like Fernando and [Aly] Cissokho, who are very young and pretty much still boys, showing such ambition, ability, concentration and maturity. It means a lot to work with a team like this. It's not easy to reach the quarter-finals but we deserve to be here. We never blame individuals; we concede goals as a team and score goals as a team. We try to explain to the players when they make mistakes but we leave it at that.

In the first half at least, we were the team who attacked more and who had more corners. In the second half we tried to contain their attacks and did just that. We reacted well to conceding the second goal; it's good to see the players react like that. I'm aware we had more chances and opportunities than Manchester United, though they probably had more possession. What we need to do is try to speak to the players and convince them they can do even better [than this result], that they're capable of going even further than this. Reaching the quarters is a big achievement but we'll try to go even further. We know that United are very strong and that they will be a different proposition in the second leg. They'll know that they need to win or draw by more than two goals to go through. Whatever happens, nothing can take away what we did today.

Last updated: 08/04/09 10.37CET

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