Cristiano Ronaldo News

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ferguson in Ronaldo's debt

by Steve Griffiths
Sun Feb 4, 10:14 PM ET

LONDON (AFP) - Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to pay his debt to Cristiano Ronaldo after the Manchester United winger inspired his side's 4-0 win at Tottenham.


Ronaldo played a decisive role as he won and then converted the controversial penalty that gave United the lead just before half-time on Sunday.

The Portugal international also set up Paul Scholes for United's third goal as Ferguson's team restored their six-point advantage at the top of the Premiership.

Chelsea had increased the pressure on United with a 1-0 win at Charlton 24 hour earlier that cut the gap to three points.

But, inspired by Ronaldo and Scholes, United responded with a ruthless display that bore the hallmark of potential champions.

Ronaldo's spot-kick took his goal tally for the season to 15, all in the Premiership, and should earn him a bonus from Ferguson, who had bet him 400 pounds he would not reach that total this season.

Ferguson said: "I'll need to go to the bank, although I don't think penalties count!

"He was fantastic today and the boy has come on great. He has the courage to play and always wants the ball.

"I thought in the early part of the match he was a bit careless. But once he got more of the ball he improved. He is that type of player. You have to service him and get the ball to him and get him working.

"He is not the kind of player that can be on the fringes. He has to be involved all the time."

After a cautious start, United moved through the gears in impressive fashion and took the lead in the 45th minute when referee Mark Clattenburg ruled that Steed Malbranque had tripped Ronaldo.

Tottenham were unable to recover from that blow and Nemanja Vidic headed United's second from a Ryan Giggs corner in the 48th minute.

Ronaldo's low cross set up Scholes for a third in the 54th minute and Ryan Giggs completed the rout with a fine finish in the 77th minute.

Ferguson admitted United had needed to step up their tempo to get the points and he said: "I thought our pace to the game was too slow in the first half and we didn't play with proper width.

"I was glad to get in at half-time one up I must admit. We made the points about what the players needed to do in the second half and they did it.

"We got off to a really good start in the second half, playing with great purpose and speed. We played the way we normally play and that made the difference."

The only dark clouds for United were injuries to Wayne Rooney and Edwin van der Sar.

England striker Rooney came off midway through the second half after taking a knock, while Dutch keeper van der Sar suffered a broken nose, leaving defender John O'Shea to go in goal for last few minutes as United had used all their subsitutes.

Tottenham boss Jol had no doubts that Clattenburg, who also turned down Spurs' appeals for a penalty when Gary Neville wrestled Pascal Chimbonda in the area, had had too much influence on the match.

"I don't think it was a penalty," Jol said. "Steed Malbranque stuck his foot out and then pulled it back, but I don't want to say he (Ronaldo) took advantage of it.

"He (Clattenburg) was standing there and had a good view of it. At first I thought Ronaldo was falling over, but if you see it again Steed stuck his foot out, so what can you do?

"That is what he probably saw but he didn't see that Malbranque pulled his foot back as well. I won't say that Ronaldo was diving but it was a difficult situation." Posted by Picasa


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