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Thursday, March 4, 1999 Published at 09:21 GMT

Sport: Football

'Beckham's the best'

Beckham (right) shakes hands with Simeone after winning the personal duel

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson hailed his midfielder David Beckham as the "best in Europe", after he masterminded the superb 2-0 win over Inter Milan.

United defender Denis Irwin analyses an historic victory (Radio 5 Live)
Beckham at last shrugged off his World Cup hoodoo by eclipsing Diego Simeone in the first leg of the Champions' League quarter-final at Old Trafford.

The England star, who was sent off against Argentina in France 98 after clashing with Simeone, made both Dwight Yorke's goals with incisive balls from the right.

And his individual display had Ferguson searching for the superlatives: "We had a lot of good performers, and David Beckham was absolutely outstanding.

"I am not surprised he tormented them all night. He is the best crosser of a ball in Europe."

United in box seat

The victory - and, equally importantly, the clean sheet - makes United clear favourites to reach the last four after the second leg in Milan in two weeks.

Inter must now win at least 3-0 to go through - and Ferguson believes his free-scoring side can breach the Italians' defence at the San Siro.

[ image: Ferguson was delighted with Beckham's emphatic display]
Ferguson was delighted with Beckham's emphatic display
"I would have been happy with 1-0 but 2-0 is a very good result for us," said Ferguson.

"I don't think the tie is over but I am sure we will score in Milan and we have an outstanding chance of going through.

"I am sure Ronaldo will be fit for the return, but we can play better than we did tonight in Milan - even though it will be very difficult for us there."

"I thought it was a good performance by us. They had one or two chances in the second half that worried me, and we will just have to look at how those happened."

'There could have been more'

"But in general we worked very hard," Ferguson added. "We could have had maybe a goal or two in the second half, and Ryan Giggs had a great chance - but 2-0 is a great result for us."

But Inter coach Mircea Lucescu warned his side will be a different prospect in the return leg: "If we start playing from the first whistle at home things will be different," he said.

"We failed to deal with Manchester United for too long tonight."

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