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Fergie: Nani has himself to blame for ban

Alex Ferguson believes Nani has only himself to blame for missing the Carling Cup final. The Portugal winger's outstanding recent form has helped Manchester United exert some real pressure on Premier League title rivals Chelsea.

But Nani blotted his copybook in a big way during last night's 1-1 draw at Aston Villa, leaping into a tackle with Stiliyan Petrov after just half an hour.

Referee Peter Walton immediately brandished the red card, meaning an automatic three-match ban that includes the Wembley showpiece with Villa on February 28.

"It was a sending off," said the United boss of his side's sixth dismissal of the season. "It was a red card. It was a naive tackle.

"He is not a malicious player but he has gone in with his foot raised off the ground and we cannot complain about it. We should have had a foul seconds before when (Gabriel) Agbonlahor came in with his foot up on Wes Brown's ribs.

"That was disappointing but we have no argument at all with the red card."

Amazingly, United made light of the setback to such an extent they were the ones who looked far more likely to get a winner in the final hour.

Brad Friedel made a superb save to deny Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney went close with a couple of second-half efforts, although given Chelsea's defeat at Everton it was a point gained not two lost in Ferguson's eyes.


"It was an important night and with Everton winning against Chelsea, we have gained one point and one goal," he said. "It could be important point."

After Carlos Cuellar had opened the scoring with a long distance header, United drew level in what is becoming a familiar manner when Ryan Giggs' cross-shot was turned into his own net by James Collins.

It was the Old Trafford side's 10th own goal this season, an amazing figure, that trails only Wayne Rooney in the club scoring stakes.

Of far more relevance was the arm injury Giggs subsequently suffered in a collision with Steve Sidwell that leaves Ferguson sweating on the veteran Welshman ahead of Tuesday's Champions League trip to AC Milan.

"We have sent Ryan for an X-ray to see if there is any damage," said Ferguson. "It is very painful but hopefully he is going to be all right."

Villa boss O'Neill was slightly frustrated by his side's inability to take all three points.

"When United had a man sent off I was hoping we would be able to take the initiative," he said.

"In the second half we didn't create enough and didn't make enough use of the extra man.

"But we were playing against a real quality side, who have been in that situation before, and who have been able to retain possession.

"We could definitely learn something from that and through replaying the match itself, watching the DVD, we will certainly be able to.

"But, I suppose, if you'd asked me at the start of season would you take four points against United, I'd have been pretty happy with that."