Sir Alex Ferguson hails 'world class' Wayne Rooney
Rooney's late winner was his 21st goal of the season
Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Wayne Rooney as "truly world class" after a late header from the striker took Manchester United into the Carling Cup final.
Ferguson's side will face Aston Villa at Wembley after beating Manchester City 3-1 in the second leg of the semi-final to win 4-3 on aggregate.
"His control, his leading of the line, his penetration was absolutely fantastic," enthused Ferguson.
"It was a wonderful performance, truly world class."
United trailed Manchester City 2-1 after the first leg at Eastlands but a storming second half at Old Trafford was capped by Rooney's winning goal in injury time, his 21st of the season in all competitions.
"I know with our deliveries I will get chances and thankfully I took that one in injury time," said Rooney.
The all-Manchester semi-final had been billed as the tie when City would underline their emergence as the new force in the north west, a fact that made victory even sweeter for Ferguson.
"You like to win your derbies," he stated. "The atmosphere tonight and the fact it was a semi-final tie added a lot of spice to the match.
"We kept our patience, that was important. Once we got into the last third of the field we always looked a threat."
Often the unsung hero, midfielder Darren Fletcher was also praised by Ferguson for his performance.
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"He is incredible, he was all over the place," stated Ferguson.
"I don't know what he's got inside him but maybe it is two engines. He has matured in terms of his knowledge of the game."
Disappointed City boss Roberto Mancini was gracious in defeat but conceded the game was lost in the short second-half spell when United scored two goals through Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick.
Former United striker Carlos Tevez found the net in the 76th minute to give the tie an aggregate score of 3-3 before Rooney ensured there was no need for extra time.
"We played very well in the first half, in the second half there were 10 minutes when we were under pressure - when United scored two goals," commented Mancini.
"The rest of the game we played at the same level as United.
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"I am sorry for my players and supporters because we have not made the final but this is football and sometimes when you make mistakes, you lose."
Mancini refused to be too downhearted, despite the defeat, and regards the club's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Stoke on 13 February as a way of making amends as well as moving up the Premier League table, with his side currently in sixth place.
"I can only compliment my players. We have another trophy to aim for and maybe we can win the FA Cup," he added.
"Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor are back with us now and Joleon Lescott is nearly fit.
"With those players I think it is possible for us to get into the top four."
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