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Zabaleta backs City to recover from Euro crisis

PABLO ZABALETA is confident Manchester City can still make progress in the Champions League.

The Premier League champions have made another disappointing start in the competition, collecting just one point from their opening two games for the second season in succession.

Last season they failed to reach the knockout stages but Zabaleta is remaining optimistic this time despite defeat at Real Madrid and a 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

City must now secure better results from their back-to-back games against Ajax to keep their hopes of qualifying from Group D alive.

Zabaleta said: "We know we can do better. It is time to work hard and try to improve.

"We know it is going to be very difficult but we have to believe.

"We need to go to Amsterdam now and try to win. With only one point we have the pressure, but we need to be positive."

City played out a pulsating game with German champions Dortmund on Wednesday but were indebted to a super display by goalkeeper Joe Hart for keeping them in the contest.

The England number one produced a string of world-class saves and, although he could not prevent Marco Reus scoring, his efforts were not in vain as Mario Balotelli struck a late penalty.

Right-back Zabaleta said: "The only positive point for us is that we took one point from the game.

"It was a really tough game - we knew that before the game, they are a good side, but obviously we are disappointed because it is the Champions League and we need to try to win the home games.

"Overall they were better than us but Joe Hart was fantastic, he showed he's one of the best goalkeepers in the world right now.

"We have to thank him for the performance he gave."

City return to action in the Premier League as Sunderland visit the Etihad Stadium tomorrow.

The Black Cats were the only team not to lose in the league at Eastlands last season, after a 3-3 draw in March, while they also beat the eventual champions at the Stadium of Light.