Relieved Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admitted his side were lucky to escape with a 1-0 Carling Cup defeat at Derby on Wednesday.
United slid to a shock reverse against the Championship outfit in the first leg of their semi-final leaving them a major job to complete at Old Trafford in a fortnight if they are to book a final appearance - almost certainly against Tottenham - at Wembley on March 1.
But, as far as Ferguson is concerned, Derby's wastefulness has offered a reprieve the Scot is certain his side will take full advantage of and he said: "We could have lost by more. But we expect to recover a 1-0 deficit against anyone at Old Trafford and I am sure we will."
He added: "We were lucky. We were so bad that Derby will rue the fact they didn't score more.
"In any semi final you hope to give yourself that breathing space."
United's first defeat in 15 matches was certainly better coming against Derby than Chelsea, who tackle the Red Devils in a crucial Premier League encounter on Sunday.
And, as Ferguson acknowledged, Nigel Clough's presence may also have been a major influence even though the new Derby boss was only watching from the Pride Park stands.
"It happens so many times historically, there is no rhyme or reason to it," he said.
"A few years ago we played West Ham and Alan Curbishley had just taken over and they beat us 1-0. It is a strange thing."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.