STOKE v VA­LEN­CIA Thurs­day, Live on ESPN, 8pm

Midweek Sport - - SPORTS -

JAVIER HER­NAN­DEZ ad­mits it is strange for Man United to be scrap­ping it out in the Europa League on Thurs­day nights.

The English cham­pi­ons have reached three of the last four Cham­pi­ons League fi­nals.

But they were stunned to be dumped out of Europe’s top com­pe­ti­tion in the group phase for just the third time.

They have been laughed at by their Premier League ri­vals over hav­ing to lower them­selves into the Europa League. Now they will square up to Dutch gi­ants Ajax for the first time in their his­tory when they head to Am­s­ter­dam.

Sir Alex Fer­gu­son main­tains he is des­per­ate for United to go all the way and de­nies it could dis­rupt their ti­tle bid.

With no FA Cup game this week­end, Fergie has vowed he will pick a full-strength side to go all-out against the Dutch­men.


And Mex­i­can hot­shot Her­nan­dez, who’s nick­named “Chichar­ito” or “Lit­tle Pea”, also ac­cepts it will be tough even though cri­sis-torn Ajax are sixth in the Dutch league.

He said: “Play­ing at home in the sec­ond leg is im­por­tant but it’s only a small ad­van­tage – it doesn’t guar­an­tee vic­tory.

“It’ll be a dif­fi­cult game but we’ll go there look­ing to win.

“The Cham­pi­ons League is the best com­pe­ti­tion in Europe and it’s a bit strange to be in the Europa League. But we want to win ev­ery tour­na­ment RI­CARDO FULLER wants Stoke to se­cure their big­gest Euro­pean scalp yet by dump­ing out Va­len­cia.

Fuller (left) is de­ter­mined for Tony Pulis’ Pot­ters to rip up the script again and stun their glam­orous Span­ish op­po­nents this week.

Stoke face a daunt­ing task against Va­len­cia in the first leg on Thurs­day on the back of four straight Premier League de­feats. But the Pot­ters have al­ready beaten Ha­j­duk Split and drawn twice against Dy­namo Kiev on their his­toric route to the last 16.

And striker Fuller is on a mis­sion to keep prov­ing the doubters wrong and se­cure a path past the Spa­niards this month. He said: “Peo­ple will say we have no chance, but they also said that in the group stage.

“We won’t go out there just to make up the num­bers, we will be look­ing to cause a shock by go­ing through to the last 16.

“It’s a draw all of the play­ers wanted. We were speak­ing about it be­fore the draw took place and pray­ing for Va­len­cia.

“They were prob­a­bly the best side we could have drawn against,

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