Wednesday, July 24, 2024

It was fate, says ecstatic Ferguson (SN)

It was fate that Manchester United would beat Chelsea in the Champions League final claimed Sir Alex Ferguson after an epic penalty shootout saw United prevail 6-5 after the match had finished 1-1 following extra-time.

The 66-year-old Scot endured as nerve-wracking a night as when he first landed the trophy in 1999 when two late goals from his side overturned Bayern Munich's 1-0 lead.

However he was beaming from ear to ear after seeing Edwin van der Sar save Nicolas Anelka's spotkick to secure victory. Cristiano Ronaldo had seen Petr Cech save one from him only for Chelsea skipper John Terry to see his potential match-winning penalty miss.

“There is a certain sense of fate about this (50 years after the Munich air disaster and winning it in 1968),” said Ferguson. “It is the first penalty shootout in a big game I've won!

“After FA Cups, the European Cup (not all finals) this is the first one! They (Chelsea) got a lucky break for their goal but they were the better team in the second-half. I think it's my best team of all time. It's fantastic and we deserve it.”

Ronaldo for his part was relieved beyond belief that after a season where he has shone with 42 goals in all competitions, including United's in the final, that it hadn't dissolved into disappointment.

“I don't know what to say!” gasped the 23-year-old, who also missed a penalty in the knockout round against Barcelona. I thought we were going to lose after I missed the penalty.

“I scored a goal and missed a penalty, it could have been the worst day of my life. I feel very proud for the lads because they still believed even after me missing and we did it.

“Penalties is a lottery as you never know if you are going to win. It's everything for me (the win). I feel very happy as this is one of the best days of my life,” added Ronaldo, who drifted in and out of the game following his goal.

For one of the few survivors of the 1999 win, Ryan Giggs it was doubly special night as he broke Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time appearance record for United when he came on as a second-half substitute to mark his 759th appearance.

“I can enjoy it a little bit more than the one in 1999,” said the 34-year-old Welshman.

“Tonight (Wednesday) we deserved it as we were the best team. Credit to Edwin (van der Sar) as he came good in the end. The first half we dominated, the second half they had their chances but we held our nerve.”

Van der Sar found it hard to express his emotions.

“I haven't had much luck in penalty shootouts,” said the 37-year-old. “We have won it now, it is unbelievable. It's fantastic.”

For Chelsea's England midfielder Frank Lampard there was another emotional rollercoaster ride just weeks after his mother died, as he scored the equaliser and then a penalty in the shootout, only to see the Champions League just like the Premiership go to United.

“It's a small detail that loses you a game, John (Terry) slipped for the penalty,” said Lampard. “No-one could deny that after 30 minutes we dominated the game.

“However we have to take it on the chin. I'm not being bitter but it's hard to take. United have won the Champions League against the better team.

“Terry should not be criticised as he stood up to take the penalty and there aren't many centrebacks who would do that.

“It has been a very hard time for me. It is unfortunate that the Champions League final has come this year when I'm having a tough time.

“Football has kept me focused on something. We'll (Chelsea) come back stronger. We are a team of giants. It's so frustrating that a penalty has decided it,” added Lampard, whose club manager Avram Grant threw his losers medal into the midst of Chelsea supporters.


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