De Jong keeps believing

PA Sport
Nigel de Jong
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Nigel de Jong

Midfielder Nigel de Jong is convinced Manchester City will turn around their Europa League tie against Sporting Lisbon next week.

City will have to overcome a 1-0 deficit to reach the quarter-finals after losing to a Xandao goal in the first leg against the Portuguese side on Thursday night. With City top of the Barclays Premier League and Sporting fourth in their domestic competition, the result was unexpected but De Jong believes the English club are still the favourites.

The Holland international, who returned to the side in place of suspended talisman Yaya Toure, said: "We are lucky we have two games, and everyone knows how we play at home, and we are confident we can go through to the next round."

He added: "All credit to Sporting as they played their hearts out, but quality-wise we will just have to see when we are at home."

City boast a formidable home record having won all 14 of their Premier League games at the Etihad Stadium this season.

Yet they were below par in Portugal and undone when Brazilian defender Xandao reacted quickly to backheel past Joe Hart after a double save from the goalkeeper early in the second half.

Hart prevented further damage with fine saves from Joao Pereira and Ricky van Wolfswinkel among a host of other Sporting chances.

City went close through Gareth Barry and Aleksandar Kolarov but it was not until the late introduction of Mario Balotelli they began to look lively, the Italian setting up a narrow David Silva miss.

De Jong, 27, said: "They dropped back quite a lot but that's how a lot of opponents see us nowadays, as a big club, a big target and a big threat, so they come with 11 men behind the ball and from there try to counter us.

"We had most of the possession but that doesn't win you games - it's scoring goals that wins you games."

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