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Page last updated at 20:50 GMT, Sunday, 13 March 2011

Roberto Mancini relishes FA Cup semi-final with Man Utd

Manchester City players
The Manchester City players ran over to Mancini after Richards scored

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has backed his side to overcome rivals Manchester United when they meet in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

City will face United on the weekend of 16/17 April after the Eastlands outfit beat Reading 1-0 in the quarter-final.

Mancini said: "We have played two games against Manchester United this season and played very well. We have a good chance to get through to the final.

"I think that Manchester City is now very close to Manchester United."

The two Manchester sides could face Stoke or Bolton in the final.

Mancini, whose team lost 2-1 at Old Trafford in February and drew 0-0 at Eastlands in November when the sides met in the Premier League this season, added: "It is a great semi-final.

"You could see what it meant to the fans at the end.

"We are very close with all the top squads but we need to improve more and maybe next year we will be at the same level.

We were a bit tired and leggy but we got through and that was the important thing. All the boys are thrilled

Micah Richards

"But it is important that we played a good game at Old Trafford last time and we have a chance to win, like them."

Micah Richards settled a nervy confrontation against Championship side Reading when he rose to power David Silva's corner past Alex McCarthy with 16 minutes remaining.

City had dominated but failed to create clear-cut chances, though Richards' eventual breakthrough ensured there will be a Manchester derby in the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1926, when City beat United at Bramall Lane in Sheffield.

Mancini had bemoaned his team's busy schedule in recent weeks, blaming tiredness for a string of below-par performances, including the 2-0 defeat by Dynamo Kiev in their Europa League last-16 first leg tie on Thursday.

After again looking sluggish, Mancini, whose side will take on Dynamo in the second leg at Eastlands on Thursday, explained: "The problem is always the same, we play every three days and it is impossible to be fresh.

"We played three days ago, we flew back overnight, it is impossible to work at 100% but I think all the players wanted this and wanted to be in the semi-final.

"It was difficult. Reading are a good team but today we had 17 attempts on goal compared to two or three from them."

Defender Richards admitted the City players were feeling "leggy" against the Royals, having played seven games in 22 days.

"It was very difficult. As the game went on it got harder. Reading did well, they defended well," said Richards.

"It was a lot harder with having the game last week. We were a bit tired and leggy but we got through and that was the important thing. All the boys are thrilled."

Reading played with confidence and were riding high after a seven-game unbeaten run that included victory at Everton in the previous round.

But after keeping City out until the 74th minute, Reading boss Brian McDermott was disappointed to concede from a set-piece.

"You look at the talent that they have got - players with fantastic ability - and then we have been done on the set play," McDermott said. "It's a bit galling to get done on a set play.

"I thought we might see it through to be honest and maybe nick one on the break.

"We had a certain way of playing and I couldn't have asked any more of the players, I'm very proud.

"We felt we were always in the game, we felt if we sat back we would have had a problem, you can't do that here."

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see also
Manchester City 1-0 Reading
13 Mar 11 |  FA Cup
Sunday football as it happened
13 Mar 11 |  Football
Sunday's football photos
13 Mar 11 |  Football
Dynamo Kiev 2-0 Man City
10 Mar 11 |  Europe
Man Utd 2-1 Man City
12 Feb 11 |  Premier League
Man City 0-0 Man Utd
10 Nov 10 |  Premier League

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