'We can go one step better' - Ferguson

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A dream shattered, another chance to emulate Sir Matt Busby gone. Alex Ferguson had not hidden his desire to win the European Cup this season and failure hit hard.

The Manchester United manager could offer no excuses for his team's defeat last night, only regret missed opportunities. "The question I asked myself before the game was 'Are we were good enough?'," he said, "and I think we answered it emphatically. We are good enough. We're a very good team.

"I don't think losing a goal was such a blow because we kept creating chances, but it gave Dortmund the comfort to keep sticking their heads in and defend with a bit of resolution. If they hadn't had that cushion they might have collapsed if we'd got a goal.

"They have more experience and at times they did make it count but I look at the two teams I'm not afraid of next season at all. I sure we can go one step better."

Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Dortmund coach, agreed that his team had succeeded as a result of fortune and resilience. "We were constantly under pressure," he said, "and rarely freed ourselves from it. Manchester United played a great game but forgot to score the goals.

"I knew that a whirlwind was going to break over us and that is how it turned out. But we had five international players injured and I wonder how United would have coped with that handicap."