Mancini targets Europa League berth
- Wed 21 Nov 2012, 10:15PM
- Posted by Mark Booth
Roberto Mancini has admitted that Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid deserved to qualify from Group D of the UEFA Champions League but has targeted a place in the Europa League.
City fought back admirably after a rampant Real Madrid went 1-0 up early in the first half and managed to equalise from the penalty spot midway through the second half.
“We didn’t lose qualification tonight, we lost it two or three weeks ago,” Mancini said.
“We knew that it was really difficult for us to go through – we tried but Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund deserved to go through more than us.
“We will try to go into the Europa League, we need to win in Dortmund - until you reach the semi or the final of the tournament it’s not as important as the Champions League but it could still be an important title for us.”
After watching his side fight back to claim a credible point against the Spanish champions, Mancini highlighted the final five minutes at the Bernabeu on Match Day One as the pivotal moment of the campaign.
“We made some mistakes, this group was very difficult and we started the group with defeat against Madrid,” he said.
“We were 2-1 up and we lost - from then on everything was very complicated.
“We wanted to go through, this group was very difficult but in the Champions League you don’t have a chance to recover.
“In the Premier League you have many games to recover, in the Champions League, you don’t.”
Mancini seemed keen not to dwell on the failure to qualify from the group stages for the second successive year and preferred to focus on the challenges that lie ahead.
I think that the season is long, you have the Champions League, the Premier League, the FA Cup – if we think we can win the Champions League after two years, we are crazy, we need to improve as a team.
“This is the second time we’ve played in the Champions League - to win the competition you have to play after February – after that anything can happen, you can improve and you can win it.
“At the moment, I think there are five or six teams better than us in the competition.”
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho believes that Real Madrid did more than enough to win the game but was pleased with how his team performed on the night.
“We played a great game tonight, particularly in the first half –we did enough to win the game by a comfortable margin – maybe 2-0,” Mourinho said.
“Of course City reacted, they managed to make a bit of a comeback, of course they did - it’s incredible when you look at the array of players they have at their disposal.
City, with their thousands of attacking options like Aguero, Tevez, Nasri, Dzeko and us with just ten men, I was pleased that we managed to hold on and the main thing is that we qualified… you can’t play to win with 10 men.
Mourinho fielded questions on the managerial situation at City’s next opponents Chelsea, and admitted his sadness at Roberto Di Matteo’s sacking.
“I think that a club must support its manager the maximum they can until the last day when they decide to make a change,” he said.
“Real Madrid and Dortmund are very big teams - from the very beginning we knew a big team would go out at this stage.
“It’s good that it was City as Roberto can work without any problems because, if it was Madrid, the press would not let me return to Madrid.”