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Fergie hails 'championship performance'

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United made an emphatic statement to their Premier League title rivals during a 4-3 triumph over Newcastle on Boxing Day.

• Premier League review

Ferguson's men snatched victory in injury-time courtesy of a Javier Hernandez strike. That propelled United seven points above second-placed Manchester City, who slipped up away to Sunderland.

The United manager insists the character shown by his side was of title-winning quality.

"The statement we made was the performance," Ferguson is quoted as saying in the English press. "That was a championship performance.

"I just wish it was the last game of the season but it tells you about the fantastic courage of our team - we never gave in.

"We had a lot of bad decisions against us in the first half. That can demoralise a team. But they didn't give in and that's a great quality to have.

"Three times down, three times coming back - and then scoring the winner.

"It's a really significant result for us. It puts us in a good position. December is always a month which tells you everything and hopefully after Wigan on January 1, we will still be talking like this."

Of concern for Ferguson, though, was United's defence. The Scot expressed his disappointment at conceding three goals against Newcastle, suggesting determination rather than organisation determined the result.

"You have to be concerned, of course. Their third goal was a killer for us. I couldn't believe it after we got back to 2-2 and played really well.

"Losing the third goal was a kick in the teeth. But they never gave in and kept making chances. If you keep making them you are bound to score some and eventually we did.

"It's only the courage of the team that has got us out of it again. Some of the football in the second half was phenomenal - really great."

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