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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Ferguson defends decision
Beckham walks off dejected
Sir Alex Ferguson insists he was right to leave David Beckham on the sidelines as Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League against Real Madrid.

Beckham scored twice after coming on as a late substitute in United's 4-3 victory at Old Trafford - but it was not enough as they lost the quarter-final 6-5 on aggregate.

But Ferguson was in defiant mood, insisting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserved his place ahead of the England captain.

He said: "I saw it as quite a straightforward decision. Solskjaer's form has been fantastic on the right hand side.

I don't regard Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a substitute any more - he deserved his place
Man Utd manager
Sir Alex Ferguson

"He had three or four great attempts on goal and he provided a real threat for us, which is what he has been doing.

"When players hit that kind of form you can't just leave Solskjaer out because he has been a substitute in the past.

"I don't regard him as a substitute any more - he deserved his place."

Ferguson was pleased with Beckham's contribution, but it came too late as United's ambition of reaching the Champions League final at Old Trafford in May was destroyed by Ronaldo's hat-trick.

He said: "He scored and worked and very hard. It is what I expect from David because he is a very good player."


Ferguson admitted it was United's failure to contain Real's brilliant attack that proved their downfall.

He said: "I said before the game that the key was to keep Real out and we couldn't do that.

"But we had chances - we put on a terrific show but it was a pity we couldn't get that one early in the second half when their goalkeeper stopped the shot from Juan Sebastian Veron.

"We missed some chances but produced some fantastic football - I'm proud of the players."

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Real Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque refused to get involved in Ferguson's decision to leave out Beckham, even though it increases speculation he may join the Spanish giants.

"That's not something for me to comment on. It is up to Sir Alex Ferguson.

"He obviously thought there were other players better placed on the night to do better."

Del Bosque did explain his surprise decision to include Steve McManaman in his starting line-up at the expense of Flavio Conceicao.

"I always trust him. He keeps the ball and holds it up, as well as creating and protecting the space in front of Roberto Carlos and allowing Zinedine Zidane to move inside more freely."

Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"It was a pleasure to have been involved in a match like that"


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