Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Ferguson lavishes praise on Manchester United after Schalke win

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - APRIL 26: Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Manchester United at Veltins Arena on April 26, 2011 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)
GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - APRIL 26: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Manchester United at Veltins Arena on April 26, 2011 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - APRIL 26: Jefferson Farfan of Schalke competes with Patrice Evra of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Manchester United at Veltins Arena on April 26, 2011 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Sir Alex Ferguson praised the efforts of his players as Manchester United dominated a poor Schalke side in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final to take a 2-0 lead back to Old Trafford.

United completely ran the first 45 minutes but could not find a way to beat Schalke's highly-rated goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and it took until the 67th for the away side to finally break the deadlock.

Ryan Giggs, who had missed a couple of fantastic chances, was played in by Wayne Rooney and finished well before Rooney himself made it 2-0 only two minutes later.

"Our concentration, intensity and speed of passing was excellent," Ferguson told Sky Sports 2

"We had less chances in the second half but were more dangerous, when Chicharito scored and it was offside it told the players they could beat the goalkeeper."

Ferguson also suggested the ability to name the same starting 11 that played against Chelsea in the last round was a deciding factor.

"The continuity of selection in these games gives us good experience and work-rate and I have good options with the likes of Nani, Scholes and Anderson. We have selection problems now but that is what we want."

The United boss even went as far as suggesting he could rest key players in the return leg as the fight to win back the Premier League takes preference.

"Depending on the result on Sunday [at Arsenal] I could make two or three changes because we play Chelsea the following weekend."

"We are a bit disappointed we didn't take more chances but overall we are delighted with the performance," he said.

"In the first half especially we had some good chances and we were disappointed at half time not to be in front."

But Rooney refused to accept that United now have one foot in the final at Wembley, knowing that Schalke scored five goals in the San Siro against Inter in the last round.

"Schalke are a good team and we can't take them lightly. We need to make sure we are professional and full concentrated," he said.

Giggs insisted the players were confident they would be able to find a goal despite being constantly thwarted by the impressive Neuer.

"We knew that if we kept creating chances one would go in and hopefully I would get one on my left foot rather than my right," he said.

"Before the game we would have taken 2-0 but now we are slightly disappointed."

The Welshman, who becomes the oldest player to score in the history of the Champions League, also praised the depth of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad.

"We've got a tough game coming up Sunday so the manager rotated and we are obviously pleased, the lads who came on did well too so it's not just about the 11 players, it's about the squad," he said.

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