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  Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 22:37 GMT 23:37 UK
Ferguson admits relief
Diego Forlan of Man Utd
Man Utd almost threw it away

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admitted his decision to take off David Beckham and Ryan Giggs against Olympiakos almost backfired on him.

With his side strolling to a 2-0 lead after an hour, the Old Trafford chief threw on Quinton Fortune and Luke Chadwick.

But Olympiakos scored twice in four minutes to leave the visitors on the brink of defeat until Paul Scholes' powerful drive ensured a 3-2 win and their passage into the second group stage.

Ferguson admitted: "It was a worrying time because we had put ourselves in a position of control.


We didn't make any chances in the first hour and I can't be happy with that
Yiannis Kollias,
Olympiakos caretaker coach

"Luke and Quinton badly need first-team football but it almost backfired on us.

"Fortunately, we managed to get some control back into our play because we had been in a comfortable position before that.

"We are really thankful to Paul Scholes for getting us out of trouble."

Ferguson confirmed he had left out Ole Gunnar Solskjaer because of a slight ankle knock which he feared would worsen on the firm pitch.

Beckham left the pitch with an ice pack strapped to his ankle, but the United boss reported nothing more than bumps and bruises.

Ferguson is likely to use the rest of their group games to experiment with his reserve players.

"It's good that we have got a place in the second stage," he said. "It means we can make changes next week.

"We have not been in a position, or had the luxury, to change the team around, which has been a feature of our selections over the last few years.

"Now we have an opportunity to do it."

Outplayed

Olympiakos caretaker coach Yiannis Kollias was disappointed at Scholes' late winner after his team's defiant fightback.

But he admitted the home side had largely been outplayed.

He said: "We didn't make any chances in the first hour and I can't be happy with that.

"You can't give a team like Manchester United a two-goal lead and expect to get anything from the game.

"Having got ourselves level, we stopped playing as a team, and that was the contributing factor to Scholes' goal at the end."

Kollias refused to comment on an incident in the first half which saw referee Pierluigi Collina struck by a coin thrown from the stands, which is sure to warrant a Uefa inquiry.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"I think 100 wins is a bit of a landmark"
Man Utd's Gary Neville:
"I can't understand what went wrong in those five minutes"
BBC Five Live's David Oates
"Defensive frailties came back to haunt United"

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