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Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Manchester United paid the price against Porto for the 'gamble' he took by opting to play just 48 hours prior to the UEFA Champions League tie.

United boss Ferguson had the option of taking on Aston Villa in the Premier League last Saturday but he chose to arrange the televised encounter for the Sunday, with a demanding international break in mind.

The Red Devils triumphed over Villa but struggled on Tuesday night when they took on Porto at Old Trafford in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

The fixture ended in a 2-2 draw and Ferguson has conceded the result means the European champions have a "difficult" task ahead at Estadio do Dragao.

He said in The Sun: "We showed tiredness because of the gamble I took playing Sunday which was not the best preparation.

"But we faced a situation and we took the best option hoping a European occasion would bring the adrenalin up."

Ferguson added in The Guardian: "I was tempted to get Villa moved to the Saturday.


"However, we had so many players on international duty in places like Bolivia, Rio de Janeiro and Korea, involving some very long and tiring journeys, I thought it best to go with Sunday."

Ferguson also rued his team's defending on the night, with his depleted back four suspect on both goals.

The Scot added: "It shows the fragile nature of our defence at the moment."

Sky Sports | Football | Champions League | News | Ferguson shoulders blame
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