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United boss Ferguson hails his champions-elect

SoccerNews in English Premier League 19 Apr 2008

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Sir Alex Ferguson claimed his Manchester United side carried the mark of champions after claiming a crucial point at Blackburn Rovers.

Carlos Tevez’s late equaliser salvaged a 1-1 draw which means that, barring miracles, Ferguson’s side can wrap up the title by beating second-placed Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next weekend.

United’s vastly superior goal difference over their main rivals means victory on April 26 will almost certainly deliver a tenth Premier League championship during Ferguson’s 21-year reign at Old Trafford.

“We have given ourselves a chance,” said Ferguson.

“There are only three games left now and we are approaching that finishing line. The attitude and the character the players showed in the second half against Blackburn was fantastic, I’m really proud of them.

“We would rather have had the three points and I think we deserved the three points. But we’ve eventually got a point thanks to another late goal from Carlos Tevez.

“I think our performance the second half was brilliant. The tenacity, the passion in our game was absolutely fantastic. They played like champions

“It doesn’t make the Chelsea game more important. It couldn’t get more important than if you are going into your third last game to win the championship and that was always going to be the case. I said some weeks ago if we win the next three games we will win the league.

“And it’s now down to one game and if we win our next game we will win the league. So it will be a fantastic game. Obviously we have the Barcelona game on Wednesday and we have to recover from that in time for a lunchtime kick-off but I think we’ll cope with that okay.”

Ferguson was without keeper Edwin van der Sar and midfielders Anderson and Owen Hargreaves at Ewood Park but he expects the injured trio to be fit in time to return for the midweek Champions League semi-final first leg in Barcelona.

The manager also revealed that Wayne Rooney has suffered bruising to his hip during the Blackburn clash but that he should also be fit to face the Catalans.

“Wayne got a knock on his hip but I’m sure he’ll be OK by Wednesday. Edwin van der Sar should be OK, as should Owen Hargreaves and Anderson.”

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes, who had seen Roque Santa Cruz score a first-half opener, admitted his frustration at seeing his side hauled back by Tevez’s leveller three minutes from time but believes his side can still qualify for Europe.

“We’ve given the best team in the Premier League a really good game,” Hughes said.

“I thought it was harsh because apart from a couple of good saves by Brad Friedel, they didn’t really trouble us from open play. And we felt it should have been a goal-kick for us and not a corner immediately before the goal but those things go for and against you sometimes.

“We’ll keep going. We have three games left and if we play as well as we did today we’ll have a real chance of getting some points out of those games.

“That’s what we have just got to do. If we can get near to 60 points we’ll be very, very close to getting that European place.”

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