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Friday, March 9, 2012

Ferguson confident despite defeat

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is confident his side can progress to the Betfair Europa League quarter-finals despite watching his side fall to another surprise European defeat.

Athletic Bilbao overcame the disappointment of Wayne Rooney’s opener to score three unanswered goals at Old Trafford and take control of the tie.

Rooney gave United hope from the penalty spot in stoppage time and Ferguson believes his side can prevail in next Thursday’s second leg in Bilbao.

"They were the better team. It's an uphill fight for us. The question is, can we win the match over there? I think we can," said Ferguson.

Defeat left United with just one win from five European games at Old Trafford this season and they had goalkeeper David de Gea to thank for keeping the scoreline respectable.

The Spaniard made a number of top class saves in the second half as Bilbao laid siege to the United goal. Ultimately, the stopper was let down by the defenders in front of him as Oscar de Marcos and Iker Muniain added to Fernando Llorente’s first-half equaliser.

The result means United must score at least twice in Spain to keep their hopes of becoming only the fourth side to win all three major European club trophies alive and the Betfair betting shows this could be tough.

Ferguson has hinted at the possibility of playing a full-strength side in the return leg as they look to salvage something from a miserable European campaign.

"We can still win the game. No question. We showed we can make chances against them, but obviously we have to defend better," added Ferguson.

"I need to really look and see how we can maybe bring Rio Ferdinand in without disrupting the league programme."

United will have to improve significantly to topple the impressive La Liga outfit on their own patch.

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