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By ESPN Staff
Feb 21, 2008

Perrin confident of finishing off United

Lyon coach Alain Perrin is confident his team can surprise Manchester United in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Carlos Tevez's late equaliser earned United a 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Stade Gerland, putting them in the driving seat ahead of the return match at Old Trafford in a fortnight's time.

But Les Gones were the equal of Sir Alex Ferguson's side on Wednesday and Perrin insists the tie is far from over.

'It isn't every day that you get the feeling you should have beaten Manchester United,' said the former Portsmouth manager.

'The draw puts us in a position to be eliminated but places them in just as uncomfortable a position.

'They may feel they have already qualified. That can make them lazy, and we can go and surprise them at Old Trafford.

'One-nil is okay, for example. It will be enough for us to score in the last minute.'

The build-up to the game, in France at least, centred around the reported spat between Perrin and Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas at the weekend.

Aulas is believed to have had frank talks with Perrin, which included questioning the coach's decision-making, following Lyon's tepid 1-0 defeat to Le Mans on Saturday.

Perrin's credentials have also been questioned following Les Gones' sluggish start to 2008 as they look to claim a record seventh Ligue 1 title in a row.

But Aulas was delighted with the way the players reacted in such conditions.

'We had to show we were a good team with a good team spirit,' he said. 'The preparation was difficult with all the media, who were playing their games and who were trying to destabilise the best team in France.

'But the team showed they are close to Manchester United and that is good news.

'Qualification will be difficult but it remains possible. It will be an amazing achievement to knock Manchester United out in the return match.'

Karim Benzema once again proved he is a star in the making with a beautifully-taken opener in the 54th minute.

It was the 20-year-old's goals that helped Lyon get the better of Rangers in the final game of the group stages, and he enhanced his burgeoning reputation with a strong, all-round display against United.

He is being tipped to go on to great things, and could even move on in the summer with Europe's heavyweights likely to come in with bids.

Even Red Devils boss Ferguson has been linked with a move for the striker, who is set to be in the France squad for this summer's European Championships.

United left-back Patrice Evra, Benzema's colleague in the France squad, did not hide his admiration for the youngster.

'Benzema still isn't as well known on the European stage as he is in France, even if Ferguson warned us about him,' he said in French daily L'Equipe.

'Here, in the build-up to his goal, he showed he is very strong.

'We don't want to build him up too much in the hope he keeps his feet on the ground but, after (Zinedine) Zidane, he will be one of the great French footballers.'