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Ferguson dampens title talk after United comeback

sports Updated: Apr 26, 2009 17:08 IST
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Sir Alex Ferguson refused to accept that the Premier League title race is over after his team moved three points clear at the top of the table thanks to a stunning 5-2 victory over Tottenham at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The United manager saw his side score five goals in 22 second-half minutes to recover from a 2-0 half-time deficit, but they benefited from a dubious 56th-minute penalty award from referee Howard Webb.

The official judged that Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes had tripped Michael Carrick, although replays suggested the decision was wrong - a theory backed up by furious Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp.

Even Ferguson felt it had been a fortunate call, although his obvious pleasure at the manner in which his team played thereafter did not extend to him celebrating what would be the 11th English league title of his career.

"It would have made the title race wide open if we had lost this," said Ferguson.

"We would have been level with Liverpool with a game in hand and these games in hand don't matter to me. The best indication is the points you have at this moment.

"We have five games left, our opponents Liverpool and Chelsea have four, and we are whittling them down one by one. We are in a better position today than we were on Wednesday and we are one goal better off than we were on Wednesday.

"But I don't even think about Liverpool. What we have to remember is how slow we played in the first half and make sure we play at our pace. We will be much better."

Cristiano Ronaldo converted the penalty and added another goal, with Wayne Rooney also scoring twice. Dimitar Berbatov was the last man on the mark to cancel out the first-half efforts by Darren Bent and Luka Modric in emphatic fashion.

After such a poor first-half showing, the manner of United's comeback stands them in good stead ahead of their Champions League semi-final first leg meeting with Arsenal at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Rooney insisted that Ferguson had not been angry with his players at the interval.

"He just said if we scored one goal we would have a chance of winning the game, and thankfully we did that.

"We know we're in a great position. We're now three points clear with a game in hand and have to make sure we take advantage of that. It's another game gone and we're in a great position. This gives us a lot of belief and confidence going into the mid-week game."

However, for Tottenham, their momentum was abruptly halted by Webb's decision and Redknapp even had a complaint about United's equalising goal, claiming that the official had been about to award Spurs a free-kick before changing his mind and allowing the home team to attack.

"I thought there was no danger at 2-0," said Redknapp. "I honestly felt there were more goals in the game for us because every time we attacked, we looked dangerous.

"It's difficult to say when you end up letting in five, but the turning point was the penalty. It gave them such a lift, it was a gift that wasn't deserved, a terrible decision.

"Then, for the second goal, he was going to give us a free-kick because their right-back (Rafael Da Silva) was all over Modric, he had his whistle to his mouth to blow then said 'play on' and they attacked and scored.

"I'm not saying he is dishonest but he is supposed to be our best referee. If he is the best, on today's performance, I'd hate to see the worst."