Ferguson hails resilient United performance

Julian Harris
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MANCHESTER United boss Sir Alex Ferguson hopes yesterday’s hard-fought victory against bitter rivals Liverpool will prove crucial in his team’s bid to reclaim the Premier League crown.

Robin van Persie’s 21st goal of the season and a Nemanja Vidic header put United two up at Old Trafford, yet Liverpool responded through Daniel Sturridge and forced the hosts into a nervy final half hour.

“The name of the game is winning. There are moments where you have to defend. Today was one of them,” Ferguson said.

“Manchester United-Liverpool games are fantastic challenges. They are the two most successful teams in the country. Today hopefully those three points will be very important.”

The result put United 10 points clear of Manchester City, yet City’s subsequent win at Arsenal narrowed the gap back to seven points.

Ferguson’s side started well and took the lead on 19 minutes. A patient passing move saw Tom Cleverley find Patrice Evra on the left, and his low cross was turned in first time by Van Persie. It was the in-form Dutchman’s ninth goal in his last nine league games.

The lead was doubled soon after half time when Martin Skrtel bundled over Danny Welbeck, who may have been through on goal, just yards outside the Liverpool penalty area. Skrtel only received a yellow card, but the visitors were made to pay when the resultant free kick found Evra at the far post, and his header was deflected in off Vidic.

Second-half substitute Danny Welbeck pounced on a rebound just three minutes later, yet his Liverpool team-mates were unable to find an equaliser despite pressing until the final whistle.