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United, City play Euro catch-up

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LONDON — Dominance has been the domestic watchword of both defending football champions Manchester United and current leaders Manchester City in the English Premier League so far this season. But Europe is proving a different story.

In two Uefa Champions League outings to date, neither City nor United have managed a single win between them, making today’s matches crucial.
Despite his side’s bright overall start, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has bemoaned recent defensive lapses.
Saturday, he was critical of Ryan Giggs for leaving the wall to allow Steven Gerrard to score for Liverpool in a 1-1 draw at Anfield.

“We have got to defend better. It’s exactly the same as last season,” said Ferguson, who was reciting the same mantra three weeks ago after United squandered a two-goal lead in a 3-3 home draw with Group C rivals FC Basel.

“We threw the game away,” Ferguson said of that showing, which left Basel in the unlikely position of group leaders with Benfica also two points clear of the men from Old Trafford.

Having failed before to get out of a group containing the Portuguese — who held United in Lisbon — Ferguson will not expect to get caught a second time as he chases a third Champions League crown after 1999 and 2008, as well as a fourth final in five seasons.

A first group win of this campaign today is now urgently required at Romanian outfit Otelul Galati, already beaten both by Basel and Benfica, who face off in Switzerland.

City are meanwhile learning the hard way that money cannot buy experience at this level as they tackle their debut season in the competition. —Reuters

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