Sir Alex Ferguson, sanguine in defeat to Manchester City last night, says Manchester United will win the return leg in a week’s time, with an Old Trafford crowd behind the team. Ferguson’s men were beaten by two goals from former Red Carlos Tevez, who pointedly ran towards the United bench following the Argentinian’s headed winner at Eastlands.
“It is just the way these things happen. Football can be like that. It can bite you,” Ferguson said.
“We have had a few players leave the club and score against us. There is no issue. I am happy with the players we have got.
“We played well and dominated the match. We were reasonably in control, but we had a mad five minutes before half-time that brought them back into the game.”
Ferguson, unhappy with referee Mike Dean’s award of a penalty for a foul clearly outside the area, refused to publicly criticise the Merseyside-born official despite the shocking award. Dean also awarded a disputable corner from which City scored a second.
The Scot, banned for two matches after he labeled another referee “unfit”, has seen key decisions go against his men in games against Liverpool, Chelsea and City this season.
“Everyone can see the penalty for themselves. It is the kind of decision that has gone against us, but could go for us on another day,” the United manager added.
“But with the crowd at Old Trafford and the occasion and what is at stake we will be okay.”
Meanwhile, veteran Ryan Giggs, who scored United’s opener on the quarter hour, said that Dean’s decision changed the game in City’s favour, with United on top before the Bitters’ equaliser.
“It was the perfect start,” Giggs told MUTV.
“You always want to go 1-0 up in a cup tie away from home. After that we probably weren’t as crisp with our passing and kept playing the ball backwards.
“We let City back into it, really. We felt we were a little unlucky to go into the break at 1-1 but we also knew we could play better.
“(The penalty decision) was a turning point. If we’d have gone in 1-0 up it might have been a different story. Sometimes you get decisions and sometimes you don’t – you just have to get on with it.”
Giggs, who played in his 31st Manchester derby, bemoan United’s failure to convert chances when Ferguson’s team was on top in the opening period. United lost the opening leg of last year’s Carling Cup semi-final before sweeping away Derby County at Old Trafford.
“We created plenty of chances but we didn’t have that stroke of luck or composure in front of goal. Hopefully we’ll have that in the second leg – hopefully we can put the chances away this time.
“After they scored (the second) we played well and probably deserved to get that equaliser. Last season we comprehensively beat Derby County in the second leg of the semi so hopefully we can do that again.
“It’s going to be tough – City are a good team, but there were enough signs, especially in the last half-hour to suggest we’re good enough to beat them.”
The second leg, which takes place at Old Trafford on Wednesday 27 January, could go ahead without Gary Neville who faces the prospect of an FA charge after appearing to make an obscene gesture in the direction of Tevez. The Argentinian twice ran towards the United bench after scoring the disputed penalty and a headed second.