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Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 10:56 UK

Ferguson heaps praise on Scholes

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Ferguson was delighted to reach his second Champions League final

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has promised Paul Scholes will play in the Champions League final after his goal knocked out Barcelona.

Scholes, who was banned for the 1999 final, scored a superb goal to settle the semi-final at Old Trafford and set up an all-English showpiece in Moscow.

"He's one of the great players to come through the ranks here," said Ferguson.

"But I'm so pleased for everyone. It's a great feeling, marvellous. This club deserves to be in the final."

Scholes's swerving strike from 25 yards was only his second goal of the season - and the 33-year-old's first in the Champions League since October 2006.

He missed United's victory over Bayern Munich in the final nine years ago through suspension, but Ferguson said he will be in his line-up when they face either Liverpool or Chelsea on 21 May.

It will be the first final between two English clubs in the history of the competition.

He added: "We can't expect him to score 10-15 goals a season like he did when he was younger, but the one he got tonight makes up for all the ones he can no longer score."

606: DEBATE
BristolCity_1985
The game against Chelsea or Liverpool will be the first all-English final in the history of the competition.

United, who were without injured duo Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic, were under pressure for long spells but their defence ensured Barca had very few clearcut chances.

"It's not easy to beat Barca because they play fantastic football but several things won us the game," said Ferguson.

"The concentration at the back, we protected the space really well and with our play up front, we could have scored three or four goals.

"I think we were too nervous in the first half but in the second half we played with much more conviction.

"Towards the end of the game, they had a go and we're very glad we got through that spell in the last 15 minutes. It was a bit of a 'hang-on job' but they didn't really make any chances and that's down to our defence."

Captain Rio Ferdinand was among United's best players, along with defensive partner Wes Brown, midfielder Ji-Sung Park and the tireless Carlos Tevez.

Ferdinand said: "We had to dig deep at the end because they put us under pressure.

"It was our discipline and a moment of quality from a fantastic player that got us through. We don't care who we play in the final. Whoever comes we will be ready."

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard admitted his side's inability to turn possession into chances had cost them.

"We did everything but score," he said.

"It was a very even game, if anything we had the better of the play. But the rules are that the team that scores goes through and they did that.

"It is a tough defeat to take and it is hard to stomach. The Champions League is very important and it is over for us now. But after this game can walk away with our heads held high."

• Paul Scholes has a mark of 7.88 for Tuesday's game in the BBC's Player Rater, trailing team-mates Carlos Tevez (8.49), Rio Ferdinand (8.05) and Wes Brown (8.01). Lionel Messi is comfortably Barcelona's top man, with a mark of 8.25.

You can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




see also
Man Utd 1-0 Barcelona (agg 1-0)
29 Apr 08 |  Europe
Comment: Man Utd come of age
29 Apr 08 |  Football
Champions League photos
29 Apr 08 |  Europe
Player Rater
29 Apr 08 |  Europe
Barcelona 0-0 Man Utd
23 Apr 08 |  Europe


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