Italian job puts City in jeopardy

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MANAGER Roberto Mancini refused to write off Manchester City’s Champions League qualification hopes despite a disappointing 2-1 defeat away to Napoli last night.

Edinson Cavani’s double sunk City in Italy, despite Mario Balotelli’s strike, and the result means that even if Mancini’s men win their final match against group winners Bayern Munich in a fortnight’s time, they will be reliant on Napoli slipping up against pointless Villarreal.

But Mancini said: “We have another game and Villarreal can beat Napoli.

“It is the first time we have played Champions League but I don’t think Villarreal will lose another game, they can win or draw - why not?

“Everything is not finished - never say never.”

Reflecting on the setback, the Italian added: “We didn’t deserve to lose this game, we should think we can score three or four goals every game. We wanted this because that is our mentality.

“After our equaliser we had two more chances to go 2-1 up, it is strange that we conceded this goal after 10 minutes.

“We had other chances to score, their keeper was fantastic and saved three or four chances, but if you lose probably you made mistakes.

“We conceded two stupid goals, we know Cavani goes on the first post. Cavani is a good player, a good striker, he scores goals and works for the team.”

Meanwhile Sir Alex Ferguson felt his side were undone by two “freakish” moments after Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw by Benfica at Old Trafford.

United’s hopes of qualifying for the last 16 will go down to the final round of Group C games after their Portuguese visitors moved into the driving seat at the summit thanks to an unexpected point.

United fell behind early on through Phil Jones’ own goal, but equalised on the half-hour through Dimitar Berbatov and then went in front through Darren Fletcher.

But Pablo Aimar secured a point for Benfica after goalkeeper David De Gea’s poor clearance caused chaos in the United defence, to leave Ferguson’s men needing at least a point from their trip to Basle next month to make it into the knockout stage.

Ferguson said: “It was very disappointing. A bit freakish to be honest with you - an own goal and then a bad kick out from David De Gea.

“The passback could have been a little bit better but David should just have played it into the stands.

“But we played so well tonight, made some good chances and played some good football.

“I’ve no fault with my players at all - we deserved better. It’s a cruel game at times and it was cruel for us tonight.”