United suffered a 2-1 defeat to Bilbao to make it 5-3 on aggregate while City in spite of beating Sporting 3-2 on the night (3-3 on aggregate) went out because of Sporting’s away goal advantage.
Following the defeat, United coach Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that his side were no match for Bilbao over the two legs. Speaking to reporters after the match, Sir Alex told Channel Five that his opponents were worthy winners.
“Yeah I think so. I don’t think we can complain. They got a really soft goal in the first-half to put them ahead. It was the last thing we wanted. I couldn’t believe we lost the goal.
“At the start of the second-half they did every well. They could have scored two or three goals. Towards the end we had a bit of impetus with the goal [from Wayne Rooney] but not enough to get us anywhere near.”
City coach Roberto Mancini on his part took full responsibility for City’s elimination.
“I’m proud for the performance, I’m disappointed for the [two] games because I think we probably didn’t deserve to go out,”
“But I am the manager, it is not the players fault, it is my fault. Probably I made mistakes – the players did everything on the pitch so I’m very proud.”
Following the defeats both managers have now turned their attention to the only possible hope for silver ware this season – the Premier League title. United prepare to face Wolves on Sunday. This should be easy opponents for Ferguson considering the fact that Wolves are deep in the relegation zone and currently facing a crisis after sacking their manager Mick McCarthy in February.
On the other hand, City who are just a point behind United in the table have a much harder task against a resurgent Chelsea on Wednesday. Roberto Di Matteo’s side have won all their games since the Italian took over from AVB early this month and with Chelsea already having qualified for the last eight of the Champions League on Wednesday, the match which will definitely be a cracker, is expected to influence both club’s standings in the league.