Feeling Blue

Mea culpa! Mancini takes the blame for Europa exit

“When a manager doesn’t prepare well for the game, this happens,” the Italian said.

ROBERTO MANCINI HAS taken responsibility for Manchester City’s exit from the Europa League last night.

Trailing 1-0 after the first leg of their round-of-16 tie with Sporting Lisbon, City looked dead and buried at half-time at Etihad Stadium, trailing 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate.

But a Sergio Aguero brace and a Mario Balotelli penalty pulled them within sight of a memorable victory. The home side threw everything at the Portuguese side in the closing stages, with goalkeeper Joe Hart going agonisingly close with a header from a corner in the game’s dying moments, but it was to no avail, and the 3-3 aggregate scoreline saw them go out on the away goals rule.

Not for the first time this season, Mancini was keen to take the blame for the defeat.

“The players did everything, and fought on the pitch. When a manager doesn’t prepare well for the game, this happens,” Mancini said. ”When I lose a game I think about why I lost and think about where I made mistakes.

“I understand we have big players but in football every game is difficult, and in the Europa League and Champions League it is more difficult, because every team plays to win.

“Sometimes we make mistakes, but the manager is the person who always prepares the game, and I probably made some mistakes for these two games.”

Sporting coach Ricardo Sa Pinto was thrilled to see his team secure their place in the quarter-finals, and said the result proved they could mix it with the best in the world.

“I am very proud to be the leader of this team and to have these players working with me,” Sa Pinto said. ”I said before, in the first leg and yesterday, that I believed in the team and the players.

“It is great for the image of Sporting to knock out a team like Manchester City, who are one of the best teams in the world.”

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