Ferguson hails dynamic duo
Soccer:Sir Alex Ferguson hailed the striking abilities of Robin van Persie after the Dutchman’s double steered Manchester United to a 2-1 Champions League win over CFR Cluj in Romania tonight.
Van Persie’s second, four minutes after half-time, was the pick, a delicate left-footed finish to Wayne Rooney’s cross. It took Van Persie onto six goals for United and left Ferguson, a former striker himself, purring. “The second goal was fantastic.
“It was a great ball from Wayne. I thought he had hit it too far in front of him. But the speed to get to the ball and his deftness of touch were fantastic.”
Rooney also created Van Persie’s first, before half-time, although the United boss conceded there was an element of luck about that effort, which looped off the former Arsenal man’s shoulder. Nevertheless, it was a very satisfying contribution from both men as they were named in a United starting line-up for the first time.
“The best quality both of them have is that they can turn a game,” said Ferguson. “That is an important feature. It doesn’t really matter if they have a personal combination, it is their ability to finish moves off, whether it is through (Tom) Cleverley, Nani or (Antonio) Valencia. We have a pair of really top players who can finish and change a game.”
Rather than use the duo in an orthodox partnership, Ferguson slotted Rooney into the position just ahead of midfield, which he seemed to relish. “There is always going to be an issue because everyone expects it to be a miracle combination. The strength of our team now is definitely in the forward positions.
“We have good alternatives, with Wayne, Shinji (Kagawa), Van Persie, (Danny) Welbeck and (Javier) Hernandez.” The additional piece of good news was that Jonny Evans, who was replaced by Scott Wootton in the latter stages, is likely to be available for Sunday’s trip to Newcastle.
“It is a dead leg. He got injured on Saturday and had a recurrence of that. He has five days to recover for Sunday. Hopefully he will be OK.”
Ferguson was also delighted with the performance of goalkeeper David de Gea, who made two excellent saves to preserve United’s lead. The result means back-to-back wins over Braga will take the Red Devils into the last 16 with two games to spare.
It is a very satisfactory position after last season’s group stage debacle, although not everything is going smoothly as, despite Ferguson’s insistence it would not happen again, United fell behind for the sixth time this season.
“It does bother us having to come from behind because we are losing those early goals,” said Rooney. “It is not nice and it is something that we have to stop because we cannot afford to keep letting teams get a head start on us especially in the Champions League because it is difficult to win the game anyway. We have to make sure we are more solid and hopefully we can be in future games.”
Cluj coach Ioan Andone was magnanimous in defeat. “A well deserved victory to Manchester United,” he said. “Their first goal was maybe a bit lucky and if we had gone to the break with a different score maybe things could have been different at the end. But they dominated us in the second half.”