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Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 23:30 GMT
Ferguson salutes Scholes
Paul Scholes was on target for sixth match in a row
Paul Scholes was on target for sixth match in a row
Sir Alex Ferguson hailed the "fantastic" performance of Paul Scholes at Blackburn as he inspired Manchester United into the Worthington Cup Final against Liverpool.

Scholes was on target for the sixth successive game, scoring twice in United's 3-1 semi-final second leg win at Ewood Park.

Ruud van Nistelrooy also scored to give United a 4-2 aggregate victory and a date with Liverpool at The Millennium Stadium on 2 March.

Ferguson admitted "it would be massive even if we played them at tiddlywinks" as he looked ahead to the final.

Andy Cole put the holders ahead against his old club, but United hit back to win comfortably.

Andy Cole congratulates Sir Alex Ferguson
Andy Cole congratulates Sir Alex Ferguson

Ferguson said: "They just couldn't control Paul Scholes, particularly in the first half.

"Paul has settled into the positions we know he is good at, he's always been given the licence to be that extra player to get into the box and he's matured, he's been fantastic this season.

"Maturity brings a lot of things - understanding and a realisation of what he is good at."

It will be United's first final in four years, and Ferguson added: "That is too long for us, and we are delighted.

"We have always looked at the League Cup as an extra to blood young players, but the format now has encouraged teams to have a go.

Paul Scholes is a very, very special player particularly playing in that position behind the frontmen

Blackburn manager Graeme Souness

"Teams in Europe get a bye to the third round, then we got two home draws and that encouraged us to go for it.

"We've played Liverpool once in Cardiff - in the Charity Shield - and lost so I hope this time it will be a different result.

"But Liverpool-Manchester United games are always fantastic.

"You can't dismiss the magnitude of games like that, it doesn't matter if we were playing them at tiddlywinks it would still be a great competition. It will be a great final."

Blackburn boss Graeme Souness admitted: "We didn't deal with Paul Scholes. He's a very, very special player particularly playing in that position behind the frontmen."

Rovers have also lost the highly influential Damien Duff with another hamstring injury, the Irishman limping off in the first half.

Souness said: "That's a double whammy for us. Damien has got another hamstring and losing him is frankly worse than losing a semi-final.

"He has been bothered by it all season. We've been watching him in training this week and he's been on fire, now we have lost him again."

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Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson
"We had to produce something very good and we did"

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