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Holders FC Porto face a major challenge if they hope to prolong their UEFA Europa League title defence into the round of 16, but midfielder Lucho González feels confident he and his team-mates "have what it takes" to overturn their 2-1 deficit at Manchester City FC.
A late Sergio Agüero strike stunned Vítor Pereira's men at the Estádio do Dragão last week, the goal consigning Porto to their first home defeat this term after they had initially taken a first-half lead through Silvestre Varela. Porto have not lost a two-legged tie in this competition or the old UEFA Cup since 2000/01 – lifting the trophy in their two previous campaigns, last season and in 2002/03 – but they are staring at an early elimination unless they can topple the Premier League leaders in their own backyard.
"Obviously, it's not positive when you lose at home in a two-legged tie, but we have what it takes to travel to Manchester and beat them," said Lucho, who rejoined the Dragons from Olympique de Marseille in January. "All of City's players have loads of quality, so that means you have to remain focused for the entire game – otherwise they'll make you pay for your mistakes. We need to play for 90 minutes like we did in the first half [at the Estádio do Dragão]. It's the only way to beat a team like Manchester City."
Victory would represent Porto's first ever win away to an English side. Thoughts, though, will invariably turn to the 1-1 draw against Manchester United FC in 2003/04 and former coach José Mourinho's dance down the Old Trafford touch line as his team moved closer to UEFA Champions League glory. The current crop would love to produce similar scenes, but they will not be aided by the absence of highly rated right-back Danilo due to a knee injury and Álvaro Pereira's suspension.
"It's a bad result for us to take into the second leg in Manchester, but now we have to raise our heads and keep on working, while thinking it's possible to get a positive result there and qualify for the last 16," added João Moutinho. "We won't have Álvaro Pereira in the second leg and probably not Danilo either, but we have a great squad and the players our coach decides to use will give their best for us to achieve our goal."
City certainly do not expect their rivals to relinquish their crown without a fight, and Yaya Touré is adamant his team will need to produce another committed display. "We'll have to play well again because the second game will be the same, very hard, although we'll have the advantage of playing in front of our fans," said the midfielder. "It's not finished yet. Porto have fantastic players and it will be difficult, but we have to keep going and go through in this competition."
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