PARIS: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was a delighted figure after his team shrugged off the disappointment of being dumped out of the Champions League to inch confidently closer to the Europa League last-16.
United defeated Ajax 2-0 with Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez finding the target.
“I’m delighted with the scoreline,” said Ferguson. “It was a very ordinary performance by us. We didn’t reach any great heights in the game but we did improve in the second half and we deserved to win it.”
Manchester City, meanwhile, came back from a goal down to beat defending champions Porto 2-1 with substitute Sergio Aguero grabbing the winner in the 84th minute.
At the Amsterdam Arena, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson fielded a full-strength side, but had to wait until the 59th minute to see the opening goal struck by Young. Mexican international Hernandez added the second five minutes from time to give the English champions a commanding advantage.
Ajax coach Frank de Boer struck a pessimistic tone after his side’s defeat.
“For us to do something against Manchester, you have to really be at 100 per cent, which wasn’t the case tonight,” said de Boer. “There’s a difference in class between the two clubs. I don’t think we’re going to win 3-0 over there.”
City inflicted Porto’s first defeat at their Estadio do Dragao in eight European matches to take a crucial advantage back to Eastlands for the second-leg. Silvestre Varela had given Porto – unbeaten in the Portuguese league at home since November 2008 – the lead mid-way through the first half. But Alvaro Pereira’s 55th-minute own goal drew the Premier League leaders level before Aguero secured victory with six minutes to play.
“I think we played a good game,” said City coach Roberto Mancini. “In the first half we had three or four chances to score and we were really unlucky. In the second half we played really well.”
Stoke City lost 1-0 to Valencia at the Britannia Stadium, while Spain’s Atletico Madrid saw off Lazio 3-1 in Rome. FC Twente beat Steaua Bucharest 1-0 in Romania.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2012.