Following a poor display from both teams last night (March 8), both Manchester United and Manchester City now face defeat and a premature exit from the Europa League.
Manchester United were toppled by an impressive Athletic Bilbao, who ran rings around the home squad in a fantastic game to take the misleadingly close 3-2 victory in the first leg. Meanwhile, Manchester City were engaged in a far less interesting contest, beaten 1-0 by Sporting Lisbon in a dull game of football that saw City seemingly resign in defeat.
Speaking after their respective teams matches both Ferguson and Mancini expressed their disappointment, with Ferguson saying: "We were well beaten, I have to say they were the better team.
"I thought our defending wasn't very good tonight and that kept us on the back foot all the time. Our attacking play was very good at times and it was an open, entertaining match. But Bilbao were the better side."
United took the lead early on in the match following a goal from Rooney, but Llorente's persistent troubling of their defence led to them conceding just before half time. Two more goals in the 72nd and 90th minutes widened the gap at 1-3, with a penalty taken by Rooney in injury time closing the scoreline at 2-3.
Mancini echoed Ferguson's thoughts with his own team, saying that City "did not play as well" as he had hoped. The City/Sporting game was a far less exciting match, with both teams woefully underperforming in front of a bored attendance of 35,000. The pace increased in the second half, but Xandao's goal in the 51st minute went unrivalled and Sporting won the game 1-0.
It is the popular belief that City will be able to defeat Lisbon in the second leg at the City of Manchester Stadium, but the fact remains that the lack of an away goal for Mancini's squad is certainly a troubling issue for the manager. United, however, are now expected to exit the league at the hands of Athletic Bilbao, who are being pegged as the favourites to advance to the quarter-finals.
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