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United display soft spot

NANI would be willing to take another penalty despite last night's spot-kick failure for Manchester United - but it does not look like he will get the chance.

The Portugal winger accepted the responsibility in the Champions League clash with Galatasaray at Old Trafford, and promptly became the third United player to fail, following Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez.

"I took a bad penalty, Van Persie took a bad one," admitted Nani.

"I am sure next time, no matter who takes it, we will score.

"I would take one again. If the manager agrees I would do it - and score."

The manager will not agree, though. Indeed, Alex Ferguson had no idea why Nani was taking the kick in the first place.

"I think he just ran and grabbed the ball," said the United boss.

"I thought Robin should have taken it, to be honest with you.

"I think we will have to decide before the game. That was my fault, I should have done that."

In the end it did not matter as Michael Carrick's seventh-minute effort proved sufficient to secure a 1-0 win. It was not convincing though.

Galatasaray had penalty appeals at the start and end of the game turned down, hit the woodwork twice and also forced a magnificent double save out of David de Gea.

"The first 15 minutes we played very well and got the goal," said Ferguson.

"At that moment we thought it was going to be a good night.

"But we became very careless and every time we lost the ball, they counter-attacked and were a threat.

"Missing the penalty kick kept them in the game."

The result was welcome given United's unexpected group-stage exit last term.


It was also Ferguson's 100th victory in the competition, the first manager to do so.

He dismissed that though, saying it was merely because he has been a boss for the longest period.

Of more interest was the late substitute appearance of fellow Scot Darren Fletcher, playing for the first time since November as he battles to overcome a chronic bowel complaint.

"The supporters recognise what a tough time he has had for the last year," said Ferguson.

"They gave him a marvellous reception.

"He has been out of the game for a year. It took him one or two minutes to get going but he can only be better after tonight."

Now United can prepare for what is bound to be a tense visit to Liverpool on Sunday.

It will be the Merseysiders' first game at Anfield since the damning judgement on Hillsborough was delivered last week and Ferguson has already appealed for calm.

United will again be without Wayne Rooney for that game, as the striker remains troubled by his gashed thigh despite claims he had returned to full training and might even have been involved this evening.


"I don't where that story came from," said Ferguson. "He was never close."

Asked whether the weekend fixture would also be too soon for the England striker, United's long-serving manager simply replied: "Yes."

Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim was certain his side should have had a penalty before Carrick struck when Umut Bulut was tripped by Nemanja Vidic.

However, his side's overall performance gave plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

"My players were excited," said Terim. "We had more possession and were in control.

"It makes me optimistic for the rest of the campaign."