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Fergie expects United to deliver knockout blow
Tue, May 05, 2009
AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Sir Alex Ferguson has warned Arsenal that Manchester United only need one goal to kill off Tuesday's Champions League semi-final.

United travel to the Emirates Stadium with a 1-0 lead from last week's first leg and Ferguson knows an away goal would leave Arsenal needing to score three times to reach the final in Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

After opting for a cautious approach at Old Trafford, Arsene Wenger's Gunners will have to play a more open game this time and, with so many attacking stars at his disposal, Ferguson is confident United will be able to land the knockout blow.

"We have the lead and we are only one kick away from Rome. It is a big incentive for us," Ferguson said at his pre-match press conference on Monday.

"We have to go there with the intent of trying to score. It is important to have a threat. Hopefully we do score and I think we have the ability to.

"If we got the away goal then Arsenal would have to score three. That would put us in a strong position.

"It's normal that the team who plays away in the first leg operates differently at home so we expect Arsenal to attack us. That might suit us although I would rather they defended all night!"

Ferguson has a long-held belief that United's total of three European Cups is not enough for a club of their stature.

With United, who beat Chelsea on penalties in last season's final, just 90 minutes away from their second successive appearance in the final, Ferguson admitted he has a burning desire to enjoy more European success before he retires.

"My biggest regret is we haven't won it more times," he said. "We have a terrific history but it is not the same as AC Milan, Real Madrid, Liverpool or Bayern Munich or Ajax. We have regrets about that.

"I've got long enough to do it. Whether I take too long to do it I don't know."

If United retain the trophy they will become the first club in the Champions League era to win the tournament in back to back years.

Ferguson, who is boosted by the return to fitness of defenders Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, added: "It is strange that no European winner has defended the trophy. I don't know why that is but we are good at firsts at United and it is a challenge for us."

Although Ferguson always gives the impression of complete confidence going into any major match, the Scot is well aware that United have an unfortunate habit of falling at the penultimate hurdle in Europe.

Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and AC Milan have all eliminated United in the Champions League semi-finals during Ferguson's reign and he admitted those defeats will ensure there is no complacency in his ranks.

"At this stage of the Champions League you can't be complacent," he said. "We had a spell after winning it in 1999 that was disappointing. That's why we had to change our thinking about the way we approached certain games.

"There have been times in the last few years when we've thrown semi-finals away. The Borussia Dortmund semi-final was an absolute throw away. We had so many chances to win the tie, it was amazing how we didn?t win it.

"There were other occasions like the Leverkusen game we got a bit nervous in the first game and were very, very unlucky in the second game.

"But there has been a good consistency about us in the last couple of years of course.

"You have to have far better concentration away. We are capable of that. It is a great credit to our back four. When they really concentrate in the big games they are usually very good."

Key to United's dominance in the first leg was the powerful display of midfield trio Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Anderson.

Carrick is well aware a repeat performance would go a long way to sealing United's place in the final.

"The midfield is a key department, games can be won and lost in that area," he said. "We played pretty well in the first leg so I was quite satisfied. But last week has gone. We've got to start afresh and do the right things again."

 
 
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