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Mar 11, 2013

Carrick: Fatigue no excuse

Michael Carrick believes tiredness was no excuse for Manchester United after they lost a two-goal lead in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea.

• Jolly: Rafa response earns replay
• Ferdinand may face FA action

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson felt fatigue was a key factor in the 2-2 draw, which came five days after his side's 2-1 Champions League last 16 second-leg defeat to Real Madrid.

Carrick, however, disagrees with his boss and believes the Red Devils should have done more to see the game out.

"It has been a tough week. But that is not an excuse," he said. "We are used to playing big games at this stage of the season. We want to be playing more because it would mean we had got through. That is not an excuse. It was a big game, we just couldn't see it out."

The midfielder set up United's opening goal, scored by Javier Hernandez, while Wayne Rooney made it 2-0 after 11 minutes. Chelsea, though, fought back through second-half goals from Eden Hazard and Ramires.

If United are to win the FA Cup for the first time since 2004, they now need to beat Chelsea in a replay at Stamford Bridge followed by Manchester City in the Wembley semi-final.

But Carrick was unfazed by the difficult draw, adding: "That is the nature of the competition. That is the business we are in. You have to play the better teams to win things. That is what is ahead of us. We are used to doing things the hard way. Hopefully we can finish things off.

"We have performed well down there [at Stamford Bridge] in recent years without getting what we deserved. Last season we were 3-0 down and came back [to draw 3-3]. This season we won. We have every chance. It is a one-off game and anything can happen."

United were chasing a Treble a week ago but, although they have been knocked out of one competition and face a tough task to win another, Carrick believes it is not all doom and gloom at Old Trafford.

"There are a lot of positives. It is not the end of the world," he said. "We are still in the cup and still in a good position in the league. We need to regroup and start again on Saturday [against Reading]."

Carrick praised goalkeeper David de Gea for his 90th-minute save from Juan Mata, saying: "It was massive. We could be out. They are the saves that 'keepers need to make. Fair play to him. He didn't have an awful lot to do in general play but he has made a terrific save."

De Gea was criticised for errors earlier in the season but earned plaudits for his display in United's 1-1 draw against Real in the first leg at the Bernabeu, and Carrick said: "He is playing terrifically at the moment."

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