Belfast Telegraph

Sir Alex Ferguson praises Manchester United's 'fantastic finisher' Javier Hernandez

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson claimed scoring goals is like "shelling peas" to the man nicknamed Little Pea.

New-boy Javier Hernandez bagged an 85th-minute winner for Manchester United in Valencia tonight to breathe fresh life into a Champions League campaign that started with a stutter against Rangers a fortnight ago.

It was a first competitive goal for the £7million summer arrival from Chivas, who has made such a positive impact in his early days at Old Trafford.

And, while Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen have grabbed the goalscoring headlines so far this season, Ferguson never felt Hernandez would have a problem finding the net either.

"The form of Berbatov has delayed his appearances," explained Ferguson.

"Of course, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar were the natural choices at the start of the season, which has meant Javier has not had a lot of football.

"But he is young and he is developing his game and doing good work in the gymnasium.

"He still has work to do in that aspect of his physique but you cannot take away from the fact that he is a fantastic finisher.

"The way he took his chance, it was like shelling peas. It was so natural to him."

Although he broke his English duck in bizarre fashion in the Community Shield, to get his first competitive goal offers Hernandez a chance to build his United career free from pressure.

"It was a great night," said Hernandez. "I am so happy about the goal but also it was important to get the win and the three points.

"I always used to watch the Champions League when I was back home in Mexico.

"It is one of the most important tournaments in the world, so I was always keeping up with it.

"The goal will give me so much confidence. I am only at the start of my career with United and to score so early in the Champions League is a big boost.

"It is great to be a Manchester United player and I want that to continue for a long time."

Hernandez's late effort settled a game of few chances.

Although Valencia had plenty of possession, they were rarely able to break through the United rearguard and Edwin van der Sar made only one save of note.

Much of that was due to the presence of Rio Ferdinand alongside skipper Nemanja Vidic for the first time this season.

"Rio needed a game like that," said Ferguson. "He has the experience, which was vital and the ability to keep the ball, which is important.

"His experienced helped us. There is no question about that.

"For his first real game in a long time we are very pleased with that."

The victory, only United's second in 19 games against Spanish opposition on Spanish soil, is a blow to Valencia, who hammered Bursaspor in their opening game and now must tackle back-to-back confrontations with Scottish champions Rangers.

"They will be two physical games," said Valencia coach Unai Emery.

"Both matches are going to be very important to us. However, we are also looking forward to playing Manchester United again at Old Trafford, when we will have to be at our very best.

"We are disappointed with the result tonight but I am quite happy with the way we played."

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