Pantilimon: City confidence still up
Manchester City's back-up goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon claims confidence will not be damaged by the side's FA Cup loss to Manchester United. The Premier League leaders were eliminated from one of the four competitions they were attempting to win as they went down 3-2 to their local rivals in a pulsating third-round tie at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.
The result may have been a blow to ambitious City but Roberto Mancini's men at least finished the game in the ascendancy, and with pride intact, after battling back from 3-0 down despite being at a numerical disadvantage following Vincent Kompany's early red card.
Pantilimon, who featured as in-form first-choice Joe Hart was rested, said: "It has not damaged our confidence. It was an interesting game, but losing a player after ten minutes is not normal. But in the second half we played on the counter-attack and scored two goals, but couldn't get the third goal, though we had chances."
City, who have a three-point lead at the top of the Premier League, will now turn their attention to the League Cup, with the first leg of their semi-final against Liverpool on Wednesday.
As it stands, they will have to make do without Kompany, who is due to serve a four-match ban for what was his second dismissal of the season. City have appealed against the sending off and will find out tomorrow if they have been successful. If they fail, the Belgium defender will also miss the return leg against the Reds, as well as Premier League clashes with Wigan Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur.
Pantilimon hopes for playing time
Pantilimon is also hoping to play again on Wednesday having so far been Mancini's choice in domestic cup competitions. The 24-year-old Romanian knows, however, that England's Hart is very much the top man and is happy to carry on playing his part in a goalkeeping team that also includes Stuart Taylor.
He said: "The manager decides which 11 go on the pitch and I hope to be in there. The team is very good and we all want to be in this team."
City started confidently against United, but were stunned when Wayne Rooney struck on ten minutes and Kompany was dismissed soon after for a two-footed challenge on Nani. They were still reeling from that double blow when Danny Welbeck hit a second, before Rooney added a third from a penalty rebound.
Yet when it seemed like City might have to settle for damage limitation in the second half, they produced a rousing response and replied through Aleksandar Kolarov and Sergio Aguero. United were left clinging on, but City could not find an equaliser and their FA Cup defence ended at the first hurdle.
Pantilimon said: "When you play a team like United it is important you have 11 men. But this is football and anything can happen. In the second half we played better, scored two goals and had a chance to get the draw."