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Page last updated at 07:26 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 08:26 UK

Macheda hails dream Man Utd debut

Federico Macheda and Sir Alex Ferguson
Macheda is congratulated by manager Ferguson after scoring the winning goal

Teenage substitute Federico Macheda says scoring the winner on his debut to return Manchester United to the top of the table was the best day of his life.

The 17-year-old striker's injury-time stunner clinched a 3-2 win over Aston Villa and moved United a point clear of Liverpool, with a game in hand.

Macheda said: "I have dreamed of a day like this.

"I just turned and shot and ran to my family. I was surprised to get a chance but now I just want to keep going."

The former Lazio trainee was supposed to be returning to Italy to play in a match but, with Wayne Rooney suspended and Dimitar Berbatov injured, he was given a place on the bench for the first time.

And United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted that his gamble paid off.

"I told him 'well done'," stated Ferguson. "It's important to keep his feet on the ground. He'll need to handle lots of publicity over the next few days.

Macheda impact impresses Phelan

"It was a gamble but we deserved our result today because we tried to win.

"We take risks but risks are a part of football. We didn't defend well but there's always a goal threat from us."

United staged a remarkable fightback as Villa were leading 2-1 with only 10 minutes to play after John Carew and Gabriel Agbonlahor had cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo's opener.

However, Ronaldo struck again to equalise and Macheda, who replaced Nani in the 61st minute, scored in the second minute of injury time with a brilliant curling shot to snatch all three points.

alfie conn

Ferguson revealed he urged his side to go for victory after they had brought themselves back to 2-2, rather than settle for a point.

"This club has been this way for a long, long time," he added.

"I love the thrill of it myself. I love to see that adventure. Yes, we take 'terrible' risks and we don't defend properly but there's always a chance we'll win the match.

"We've had our blip. We had seven, eight players missing today, four or five of the very top team but you can see that these young players are prepared to go right to the very end."

O'Neill praises 'terrific' Villa

Villa boss Martin O'Neill was understandably disappointed after seeing his side beaten by a last-gasp goal.

But he was full of praise for his players over the way he felt they took the game to the Champions.

He said: "I thought we were absolutely brilliant. We conceded an early goal but fought back to get ourselves in front.

"I do not think we deserved to lose the game.

"We will gain confidence from this performance. That might sound crazy because we are in the results business - but we were terrific today.

"We should have got something from the game and I actually think we should have won it.

"The defeat is a bitter pill to swallow because we came to Old Trafford and played so well. We took the game to them and I am very proud of my players.

"We will have to take this on the chin but we can definitely come back from this."


Macheda's early promise

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see also
Who is Federico Macheda?
06 Apr 09 |  Man Utd
Man Utd 3-2 Aston Villa
05 Apr 09 |  Premier League
Neville hails 'brilliant' Macheda
05 Apr 09 |  Match of the Day
Sunday's football photos
05 Apr 09 |  Premier League
Sunday's football as it happened
05 Apr 09 |  Football

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