United well prepared to stand their ground: Football

Manchester United's journey yesterday morning from a damp and overcast Ringway Airport to the sunshine of Oporto seemed emblematic of the club's season. Out of the darkness of those infamous defeats to Juventus and Fenerbahce, Newcastle and Southampton, has appeared the beckoning light of success at home and abroad.

With the domestic campaign bubbling nicely, United are here to complete a job all but finished at Old Trafford a fortnight ago. The catchphrase is "beware complacency" but few expect the 4-0 first-leg lead to be overturned. A semi-final with Borussia Dortmund or Auxerre is being contemplated.

Not that United, who will have two spies in Auxerre tonight, are taking Porto for granted. When asked if he had previously had to defend a 4-0 lead, Gary Pallister paled. His voice dropped to the same low tone Allan Border always used when discussing Headingley 1981. "I've seen some terrible things in cricket," Border would say, when faced with apparently certain victory.

Pallister's nemesis was in Barcelona two seasons ago. United were humbled 4-0 and Pallister recalled: "We took a lot of stick.

"I've never been in this position but I know if you are not professional the roof can cave in. The Nou Camp was not so long ago, we are all aware of that. No one at Old Trafford needs reminding of that night. Coming back from Barcelona we felt embarrassed - Porto would have been the same after Old Trafford."

United are expecting an early assault from Porto, whose pride was further dented by a home defeat to Sporting Lisbon at the weekend. After being unbeaten all season, they have now lost three and won one of their last five matches. Antonio Oliveira, Porto's coach, has refused to speak to either the local or foreign press or allow them into his training sessions. This reflects the mounting pressure on his position - another humiliation tonight and he could be sacked, even though Porto still lead the Portuguese League by seven points.

Ferguson is more concerned with his players' welfare. Ryan Giggs (hamstring), Gary Neville (ankle) and Andy Cole (thigh) are all doubtful, with Cole and Giggs unlikely to start. Any one of several players could replace Giggs, while Roy Keane would come in for Cole with United reverting to four across the middle. The injuries mean he is unlikely to rest Eric Cantona, the most volatile of seven players on a yellow card. United are yet to have a player suspended, Porto have three out tonight: Sergio Conceicao, Rui Barros and Artur.

Portuguese police are expecting up to 10,000 United fans - only 6,400 of them in the official party. So far United supporters have been generally well-behaved in Europe. As long as they continue to be so, United's season should still be glowing with promise tomorrow.

Porto (probable): Hilario; Joao Pinto, Aloisio, Jorge Costa, Fernando Mendes, Barroso, Paulinho, Zahovic, Edmilson, Jardel, Drulovic.

Manchester United (probable): Schmeichel; G Neville, May, Pallister, Irwin, Beckham, Johnsen, Keane, Poborsky; Solskaer, Cantona.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power