Monday, July 22, 2024

Man Utd count cost of Champions League win

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that his side's comfortable victory over Aalborg could carry a high price after two key players picked up injuries in the Champions League stroll.

Paul Scholes was carried off with knee ligament damage in the 11th minute while star-striker Wayne Rooney hobbled off in the second-half of the 3-0 win with an ankle problem.

“With Scholes it is definitely medial ligament damage, but we don't know how serious yet,” Ferguson said, before offering a prediction that the midfield dynamo would be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

“There's always a price to pay and it was a bad one for us today,” the United boss complained.

“Rooney felt his ankle weaken and will definitely be in doubt for the Blackburn game on Saturday.”

Ferguson will be keeping his fingers crossed that Rooney's problem is not serious and he can ill afford to lose Scholes with England midfielder Michael Carrick unavailable for the next month after breaking a bone in his foot against Liverpool on September 13.

The injuries took the shine off Tuesday's entertaining 3-0 win, which will be remembered for Dimitar Berbatov's first Manchester United goals since his 30.75-million-pound deadline day transfer from Tottenham.

After Rooney had given United a first-half lead, the Bulgarian's first came in the 55th minute when he capitalised on a terrible mix-up between Aalborg defenders Steve Olfers and Thomas Augustinussen to slam home a vicious drive from the edge of the penalty area.

His second goal was created by excellent skill on the right wing by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese winger clipped an inviting cross into the penalty area but there was still a lot to do for the former Bayer Leverkusen striker as he hooked the ball from behind his body and into the goal.

Ferguson praised the Bulgarian hitman's performance.

“You always want to score early after being transferred for such an amount of money and he missed a good chance in the first half, which he was frustrated with.

“But to be fair he's taken his second goal very well, it was a real striker's finish,” the Scot added.

Rooney's opener was a cool finish after a penetrating through ball from substitute Ryan Giggs.

The holders now have four points and top group E on goal difference from Villarreal, who beat Celtic 1-0 on Tuesday.

“It's a good foundation going into the double-header with Celtic and gets us nearer to that 10 points level that you feel is vital for the next stage,” Ferguson added.

The Old Trafford boss sprung a surprise prior to kick-off by picking 18-year-old Brazilian Rafael instead of Wes Brown at right-back in a bold attacking starting line-up.

“I feel the boy's something special,” Ferguson said. “He's got great belief in himself and he's got a great chance the kid. I am very pleased with him.”

The youngster repaid Ferguson's faith with a dynamic performance which nearly resulted in a stunning long-range goal.

Aalborg manager and fellow Scot, Bruce Rioch, remained philosophical in defeat, realising that the experience and revenue gained from the current campaign far outweighs individual results.

“We were confident we could do well and the players' attitude was good. I'm pleased for them, it's a good experience for them and for the club,” Rioch said.

The Red Devils' boss had generous words for his Jutland hosts, and predicted that they could make life difficult for opponents in the future.

“There's been lots of progress and developments outside the team itself and I think that's terrific,” he said.

“They play nice football and gave us some problems. It's difficult to think they're going to beat Villarreal but I can see them being a difficult team to beat away from home.”


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