Moyes: Manchester United “can be a match for any team”

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After three days of relentless speculation about his future at Manchester United, David Moyes is entitled to a lot of leeway. Not only did the team’s 3-0 win at Old Trafford see Olympiakos out of UEFA Champions League, it allowed United to bounce back from its most embarrassing loss of the season.

With the thin possibility to winning silverware still alive, the first year Red Devils’ boss can speak about his team with renewed optimism.

“I don’t see why [United can’t win the competition],” Moyes said after seeing the Greek champions out of the competition. “If we can play to our capabilities, I think we can be a match for any team.”

But how much did Wednesday’s performance reflect those capabilities? We’ve seen Manchester United play better, but it’s been a while. In group stage, they put in impressive performances against both Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk – teams that have more talent than Olympiakos. Against a team decidedly below their talent level, a 3-0 result wouldn’t be cause of celebration had United not dug an initial hole.

(MORE: Van Persie treble hands Manchester United incredible Champions League comeback win over Olympiakos)

In the early stages of the competition, however, the Bayer and Shakhtar games carried none of the stakes of today’s must-win match.

“I told the players on Monday morning we have to win 3-0 to give the fans something back,” Moyes explained. Without a three-goal result, the Red Devils would have either done to penalty kicks or been eliminated from the competition “I thought it was a magnificent team performance. We carried no passengers and everybody fought their corner.”

The biggest of the night’s stars was Robin van Persie, who scored twice in Wednesday’s first half to pull United even. Completing his hat trick in the second half, van Persie carried the Red Devils into the final eight, avoiding what would have been a historic exit at the boots of Olympiakos.

(MORE: Who’s in? Ranking the eight teams that have survived into UEFA Champions League’s quarterfinals)

“Only certain players in the world are capable of scoring a hat trick in the Champions League. Robin van Persie is one of them,” Moyes said.

But indicative of the magnitude of Moyes’ plight, the manager’s status at the club was as much a part of the post-gmae conversation as his star striker’s hat trick.

“I’m not feeling any pressure from inside the club,” Moyes reiterated, maintaining the same stance he’s held throughout the trying period following Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool.

From Wednesday’s post-match press conference:

People will probably think it’s a turning point in people’s careers but I didn’t see it like that because the club don’t see it like that. I see myself here for a long time. Every time we have a good game we’ve never backed it up. We are going to keep going in this competition but it’s going to be tough. There’s a lot of good teams. We know we have a lot of work to do but it’s a great result and we want to stay in the competition. The other teams are good now and we look forward to the draw.

Liverpool fan attacked by Roma support outside pub

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Ugly scenes surrounded Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League visit from AS Roma, as visiting supporters used the occasion as an excuse for violence.

[ MORE: LFC 2-1 Roma | Klopp reacts ]

Several reports say Roma support — some armed with belts, others with hammers — stormed Liverpool supporters outside a pub near Anfield, with a 53-year-old man requiring treatment after 80 people charged the Albert Pub using a side route.

The Liverpool Echo says Merseyside Police are investigating the incident, and Sunday Times football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft provides some details on the harrowing events.

Comeback kids Roma defiant after loss: “We are not beaten yet”

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AS Roma turned around a three-goal first leg deficit against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, and i Lupi feel prepared to do it against Liverpool, too.

Roma fell 5-2 to the Reds on Tuesday, but again struck late to bring away goals back to Italy. This time, it was Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti ruining a host’s clean sheet.

[ MORE: Match recap | Klopp reacts ]

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco was not thrilled with his side on the night. From ASRoma.com/En:

“We weren’t on their level tonight – we were lacking a bit of strength and physical presence,” he said. “We let them swamp us too easily on occasion.”

A better second leg is almost assured, but can Roma complete another comeback?

“I have total belief,” Di Francesco said. “You can’t just give in during a game, especially in this type of competition. Sometimes you take a few hits, but the team wasn’t able to stay in the game and at times we lost a bit of unity.”

Sporting director Monchi admits that he thought his side was cooked before Dzeko opened Roma’s account.

“Up until the final 10 minutes we were out of the competition,” he said. “Now we still have some hopes, and we must take this small chance and do the same thing we did against Barcelona.”

Former Spurs defender Federico Fazio, now with Roma, thinks it can be done.

“We always focus on the positives,” said Fazio. “We are fighters and we will give absolutely everything until the last second. We are not beaten yet, once again with the strength of our fans behind us we will fight to the last moment to try and turn this tie around.”

Klopp reacts to Liverpool’s 5-2 win, Ox’s “bad news” injury

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Liverpool won Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal 5-2 against Roma at Anfield, but it’s show-stopping 80-minute isn’t carrying a ton of momentum in the echoes of the final whistle.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-2 Roma ]

That’s because of two factors:

  1. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off the field with an ugly injury
  2. The two in the score line came in the final 10 minutes, as Liverpool almost inexplicably lost focus.

Before we get to Point No. 2, here’s Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on “The Ox”:

“Oxlade-Chamberlain is probably a really bad injury,” Klopp said on BT Sport in England. “That is bad news for us. The squad doesn’t get bigger at the moment so we need to be creative in the next few games.”

As for the Roma goals, Klopp was frustrated but ultimately happy to walk away with a three-goal lead.

Edin Dzeko headed home the Roma opener in the 81st minute before Diego Perotti converted a penalty kick after James Milner handled a ball in the box. Roma collected shot attempts in the final 10 minutes to finish the match 21-14 in Liverpool’s favor.

Klopp did not think it should have been a PK.

“Long term perfect performance for pretty much 80 minutes or so,” he said, via the BBC. “We made defensively one mistake. Penalty is not a penalty but that is the situation and now it is 5-2. Of course we would have been more happy with 5-0 or 5-1 but 5-2 is a fantastic result. We go there and try again.”

Liverpool on late let-off: “You can’t do that in the Champions League”

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Count Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson among those let down by the final 10 minutes of their UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg on Tuesday.

The Reds took a 5-0 lead and conceded goals to Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti to give the visitors hope with two away goals heading back to Italy for the May 2 second leg.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-2 Roma ]

“It felt as though we were in full control but we basically gave them two goals, you can’t do that in the Champions League,” Henderson said. “At the same time we played well, we will go there with a three goal advantage.”

Reds center back Virgil Van Dijk was visibly frustrated even when discussing the boss-level effort in building a lead which should be very hard to erase in Rome.

“It was a fantastic evening, lot of good goals,” Van Dijk said. “A lot of passion, frustration, but the last minutes stays in my mind right now. … It can’t happen. Obviously we know Roma have a lot of quality but we need to do better. But we have a 5-2 lead to take with us to Rome. It’s going to be very tough, but we’ll be ready.”

So 3-0 or 4-1 would do it for Roma next week in Italy, but that’s far easier said than done. Liverpool fans won’t be booking too many flights for Ukraine yet, but Jurgen Klopp will be scouting Bayern Munich and Real Madrid on Wednesday with an eye toward Kiev.