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Page last updated at 19:27 GMT, Sunday, 22 August 2010 20:27 UK

Sir Alex Ferguson rues loss of 'silly points' at Fulham

Fulham boss Mark Hughes (left) takes a point off his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson
Hughes and Ferguson both felt 2-2 was a fair result at Craven Cottage

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson criticised his players for throwing away "silly points" in the 2-2 draw at Fulham on Sunday.

Leading 2-1, United missed a penalty and then allowed Brede Hangeland to head Fulham level in the last minute.

"When you get the chance to seal the game with that penalty you should be taking it," Ferguson told MUTV.

"It was a missed opportunity and it galvanised them, got the crowd up and they scored the equaliser."

Five minutes prior to his last minute equaliser, Hangeland had shinned a corner into his own goal to seemingly give United the points at Craven Cottage.

And United could have opened up a two-goal lead moments later when Nani had his spot-kick saved by Cottagers keeper David Stockdale after Damien Duff was ruled to have handled after the ball hit his knee then hand.

"When we got that second goal I thought 'we've escaped here'," admitted Ferguson. "But to miss a penalty kick to make it 3-1, you're throwing two points away there I'm afraid."

Penalty save spurred Fulham on - Hughes

Ferguson also questioned the decision to allow Nani to take the spot-kick and not Ryan Giggs, who had come on as a substitute.

"I thought Ryan should have taken it," stated the United manager. "In the last game we played against Tottenham at home Ryan scored two penalty kicks and Nani was on the pitch the same day. Maybe Ryan should have taken it."

The visitors began well and took the lead after 11 minutes through Paul Scholes's low drive, but were pegged back when Simon Davies deservedly levelled for Fulham with a close-range finish.

It remained that way until the dramatic finale.

"In fairness to Fulham they were the better team in the second half. I don't think we deserved to be in front at 2-1," reflected Ferguson. "They caused us a lot of problems, particularly Bobby Zamora who was very good for them. We can't complain in terms of the run of the game."

Ferguson reserved special praise for goalscorer Scholes, who once again produced a superb display after his midfield masterclass in the 3-0 victory over Newcastle last Monday.

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"We've seen that before from Paul - he's done that so many times," added Ferguson. "Once again it was an outstanding performance from him. It's just disappointing we didn't ram home the advantage."

The result means reigning champions Chelsea - probably United's main rivals for the title - are the only side with maximum points following their second successive 6-0 win on Saturday at Wigan.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes was pleased with his side's showing, and admitted that the penalty save had given his players the belief to push on and achieve an equaliser.

"I thought it was a competitive game between two evenly matched sides trying to win and put a show on," said Hughes. "The fans will have enjoyed it and as a football person I enjoyed it.

"At 2-1 down with only four or five minutes remaining, the award of the penalty - which we thought was really harsh - at that stage you think it's the conclusion of the game.

"At 3-1 it would have been nigh-on impossible to come back but David's save gave us that bit of extra belief we needed at that point in the game and it kicked us to get an equaliser.

"It was a fantastic header from Brede Hangeland, who was feeling a little upset about the own goal but came back and had an answer for it."

Hughes also praised 24-year-old keeper Stockdale, who has filled in this season because of an injury to regular keeper Mark Schwarzer.

Vidic disappointed not to hold on for win

Australian Schwarzer remains a target for Fulham's Premier League rivals Arsenal, but Hughes is keen to keep the 37-year-old goalkeeper to assist the development of his young understudy.

"Mark was injured today and unavailable for selection but I had no qualms in bringing David in," stated Hughes. "He was excellent last week and continued in the same vein today.

"He's an outstanding young keeper but I'm conscious of his development as sometimes giving them too much too soon can hamper that.

"We need an experienced keeper as well as David. We have one here already and we would like it to remain like that way.

"I understand the interest in Mark as he's been one of the top keepers in the Premier League, but we have to protect Fulham's position."

Hughes also admitted he will be looking to strengthen his squad before the end of the transfer window on 1 September.

"There will be a number of things we will pursue and try to conclude," he said. "There's nothing in the offing yet but we'll be trying to add to the quality we already have here."



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see also
Fulham 2-2 Man Utd
22 Aug 10 |  Premier League
Sunday football as it happened
22 Aug 10 |  Football
Ferguson BBC boycott under review
22 Aug 10 |  Man Utd
Fulham warn Arsenal on Schwarzer
20 Aug 10 |  Fulham
Ferguson hails 'special' Scholes
16 Aug 10 |  Premier League
Man Utd 3-0 Newcastle
16 Aug 10 |  Premier League
Bolton 0-0 Fulham
14 Aug 10 |  Premier League
Hughes sets Fulham top-10 target
03 Aug 10 |  Fulham


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