Sat, Feb 18, 2012 - Page 18 News List

United, City notch up wins in Europe

GOOD STARTS:The Red Devils clean-sweeped Ajax and Manchester City beat high-flying Porto to set up mouthwatering round-of-32, second-leg meet-ups


Porto’s Alvaro Pereira, right, vies with Manchester City’s David Silva in their Europa League round-of-32, first-leg match in Porto, Portugal, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Manchester United and Manchester City shrugged off the disappointment of being dumped out of the Champions League to inch confidently closer to the Europa League round-of-16 on Thursday.

United defeated Ajax 2-0 in Amsterdam, with Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez finding the target in the first leg of their round-of-32 tie.

Meanwhile, City 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 he had to wait until the 59th minute to see the opening goal struck by Young, who has only recently returned to action following a lengthy injury layoff.

Mexican international Hernandez added the second five minutes from time to give the English champions a commanding advantage.

“I’m delighted with the scoreline,” United manager Ferguson said. “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.”

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 percent, which wasn’t the case tonight,” he said.

“There’s a difference in class between the two clubs. I don’t think we’re going to win 3-0 over there,” he added.

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 midway through the first half.

However, Alvaro Pereira’s 55th-minute own-goal drew the Premier League leaders level, before Aguero secured victory with six minutes to play.

“I think that we played a good game,” City coach Roberto Mancini said.

“We played very well. 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,” he added.

Stoke City were unable to make it a triple celebration for the Premier League when they lost 1-0 to Valencia at the Britannia Stadium.

Mehmet Topal scored the only goal in the 36th minute with a stunning 33m strike.

Spain’s Atletico Madrid saw off SS Lazio 3-1 in Rome, despite falling behind to a 19th-minute goal from German striker Miroslav Klose.

Adrian Lopez leveled before Radamel Falcao — who lifted the trophy with Porto last season — grabbed a brace for Atletico.

Former England manager Steve McClaren saw his Dutch side Twente edge Steaua Bucharest 1-0 in Romania, thanks to a second-half strike from Ola John.

Away from the stadium, however, one Dutch fan was hurt in clashes in a Bucharest bar between rival fans.

There was also trouble in Italy when a steward was hospitalized after fans pushed over a fence before the goalless draw between Udinese and Greek side PAOK.

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