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United still confident of securing Wembley spot

Alex Ferguson is optimistic that a repeat performance of last night's Carling Cup effort in the second leg at Old Trafford next week will be enough to send Manchester United to Wembley.

Ferguson found it hard to be too critical of his side after the 2-1 loss at Manchester City, given the Red Devils dominated for half an hour at Eastlands and created several clear openings after Carlos Tevez's double had ambushed his old club.

And, while they must win to stand any chance of successfully defending their trophy, the United boss remains confident.

"The most important thing will be to play like we did this time," Ferguson said.

"We dominated the match and were reasonably in control. Then we had a mad five minutes before half-time and it brought them back into the game.

"But with the crowd at Old Trafford, the occasion and what is at stake, we will be OK."

The 'mad five minutes' Ferguson referred to revolved around the penalty that teenage defender Rafael needlessly gave away five minutes before half-time for a tug on Craig Bellamy's shirt.

Rafael made his first grab outside the box but was still clinging on as the Welshman entered the area, which prompted referee Mike Dean to immediately point to the spot.

Given his recent altercations with officials, Ferguson probably wisely diluted his words, instead inviting others to judge its merits.

"Everyone can see the penalty for themselves," he said.


"It is the kind of decision that has gone against us tonight but could go for us on another day."

Ferguson was not happy with City's second though.

A debatable corner turned into a disaster when Wes Brown and Jonny Evans both went to try and close Vincent Kompany down, meaning Tevez was on his own as the Belgian turned the ball back into the six-yard box.

It was a disappointing mistake given it involved two orthodox defenders, the kind Ferguson was desperate to return during that awful period when he had nine men missing.

"I don't know if it was a corner or not. But we certainly didn't defend it well," he grumbled.