Sports betting: United victory is value for money

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The Independent Online
Barring an upset beyond the wildest dreams even of Leeds fans, Manchester United will progress to the semi-finals of the European Cup on Wednesday evening, but if the bookmakers are correct, it will not be on the back of a victory in Portugal, or even a draw.

Porto are even money with Ladbrokes to restore a little pride after their thrashing at Old Trafford, with Manchester available at 5-2 against with William Hill, and the draw generally 12-5. United are hardly going to start the match with five up front, but Porto's need for early goals will leave gaps, and an away goal would effectively end the tie. At 5-2, Alex Ferguson's men are excellent value.

An away win is essential if Newcastle are to progress in the Uefa Cup, and while Monaco, their opponents tomorrow, were generously priced (and recommended here) to win the first leg, allegiance should now switch to the Magpies. The scarcity of home support in Monaco is well-known, and Leeds demonstrated last year that the French side are vulnerable on their own ground. The return of Les Ferdinand and the memory of what Tony Yeboah did to Monaco last season make Newcastle attractive at 100-30 (Ladbrokes) or 20-1 for the competition with the same firm - which will shrink to low single figures if the British side can prevail.

Liverpool's progress in the Cup-Winners' Cup should be smoother, and the odds suggest they have almost as much chance of lifting the European trophy as of taking the Premiership, following Saturday's draw at Nottingham Forest.

EUROPEAN CUP: Best odds: 6-4 Juventus (Super Soccer), 3-1 Man Utd (Ladbrokes), 9-2 B Dortmund (Hill, S), 7-1 A Madrid (H, S), 12-1 Ajax (L), 33-1 Auxerre (H, L), 80-1 Rosenborg (H), 150-1 Porto (H).

UEFA CUP: 13-8 Internazionale (L), 5-2 Monaco (L), 6-1 Schalke (H, L), Brondby (H,L), 16-1 Valencia (H), 20-1 Newcastle (L), 22-1 Tenerife (S), 50-1 Anderlecht (L).

CUP-WINNERS' CUP: 13-8 Barcelona (H, S), 11-4 Fiorentina (H), Liverpool (L,S), 8-1 Paris SG (L), 12-1 AEK Athens (H,L,S), 80-1 Benfica (L), Brann (H,L), 125-1 Stockholm (H).

FA PREMIERSHIP (Super Soccer): 4-9 Man Utd, 5-2 Liverpool, 15-2 Arsenal, 14-1 Newcastle, 125-1 bar.