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Ferguson hails revival as United breezes past Villa

Ferguson hails revival as United breezes past Villa

Sir Alex Ferguson insisted that Manchester United had rediscovered its famed self-belief after watching his side beat Aston Villa 2-0.

United's seventh away win of the season slashed Chelsea's lead at the top of the Premiership to six points, with Jose Mourinho's team facing a testing trip to Arsenal yesterday.

A goal early in each half at Villa Park on Saturday for Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy was enough to kill off the host, which will spend the Christmas anxiously looking towards the relegation zone.

Ferguson had no such concerns. The Scot had been under pressure after United was sent spinning out of the Champions League at the group stage but that has since been relieved by a six-game unbeaten streak in the Premiership.

"We were knocked out of Europe but when something like that happens you get off your backside and do something about it," Ferguson said. "We've pulled our socks up over the last few weeks and Im delighted that we're winning games again," he said.

Ferguson admitted that his team would almost certainly have to extend its unbeaten run until the end of the season in order to reclaim the title, but van Nistelrooy was in more bullish mood.

"A six-point gap doesn't sound so bad," the Dutch international said. "Of course we still believe that we can win the title because if we didn't there would be no point in us turning up to play," he said.

"We've got some momentum now and when you win the confidence starts to grow every week. We just need to focus on our job now."

Van Nistelrooy was the official man of the match at Villa Park but although the Dutchman produced a typically clinical finish when he converted Darren Fletcher's excellent pass in the 10th minute, it was Rooney who deserved the plaudits.

The England striker was at his destructive best and his performance was worth more than just one goal. He set up Park Ji-Sung for an early chance which the South Korean hammered against the post but his teammate returned the favor in the 53rd minute and Rooney made no mistake, planting his shot firmly past Thomas Sorensen. The 27 million pound striker almost doubled his tally with a wonderful overhead kick just past the hour mark - emulating van Nistelrooy's equally acrobatic first-half effort which forced Tomas Sorensen into a smart save - and he also set up Ryan Giggs for a simple chance which the Welshman blazed over.

Villa manager David O'Leary admitted: "The bottom line is that we were completely out-classed by the better team and we have absolutely no excuses."

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce fired out a warning shot to the Barclays Premiership leading pack after watching his side chalk up a 4-0 victory against Everton at Goodison Park.

"This is a fantastic result for us and it will make everyone else stand up and watch out," declared the Trotters gaffer, who had seen his side progress to the last 32 of the UEFA Cup after its 1-1 draw with Sevilla on Wednesday.

"If it was Arsenal you would be raving about the quality of the finishes, so why not do the same about us?" Allardyce asked.

"They were outstanding goals, especially the ones from Stelios (Giannakopoulos)."

The Greek scored a brace during an incredible six minutes in the second half with Gary Speed also finding the target from the spot during the frenetic spell.

Kevin Davies had earlier opened the scoring with his first goal in 19 games - the other came in the draw against Aston Villa in the opening game.

"I am so pleased for Kevin," said Allardyce. "He had become ever

more anxious about his scoring rate.

Everton were booed off after its worst home loss in 12 years, and the Toffees are now back in trouble following a brief period of recovery.

"You wouldn't see those type of goals if you go to the park tomorrow," said dejected Everton boss David Moyes.

In other Premiership action: Fulham 2, Blackburn 1; Manchester City 4, Birmingham 1; Portsmouth 1, West Brom 0.

Updated : 2022-01-20 12:24 GMT+08:00