Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Porto Clued Up after Spying on United in Training

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Porto Clued Up after Spying on United in Training

Article excerpt


PORTO skipper Lucho Gonzalez took part in a 'spying mission' on Manchester United last night and then insisted his team had nothing to fear from the defending European champions.

Gonzalez and two team-mates watched Sir Alex Ferguson's men being put through their paces from the upper reaches of the Estadio do Dragao for longer than the 15 minutes most observers get to watch United train.

Ferguson seemed unaware of the intrusion ahead of tonight's Champions League quarter-final, second leg. The Portuguese champions are favourites to go through after earning a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford last week and Gonzalez admitted he is not scared by United's reputation.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is probably the number one player just now but they are all at Manchester United for a reason, that is why they are the best in the world," he said. "But such things don't mean anything to me. I don't know if United can play any better than they did last week but I will try to make sure they don't." Coach Jesualdo Ferreira, who is banned from the touchline tonight, is equally defiant in the face of United's supposed strength.

He knows history is on Porto's side given they have never lost a European home game against an English club and that United went out from this position in the 2002 semi-finals when they lost on away goals to Bayer Leverkusen.

"There is no way I would swap places," said Ferreira, when asked if he would like to be in Ferguson's shoes.

"I like my team and I don't feel any pressure.

"We need to control the game and, to do that, we need to control our emotions. United are the best team in the world but last week we proved they were only human and we aim to do the same again."

Ferguson, who will have Rio Ferdinand back after three matches out with a groin injury, is convinced Saturday's win at Sunderland will prove to be a watershed in United's season. …

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