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Five Aside

Fergie: We played like champions

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United proved they are worthy champions in their 2-2 draw with West Ham on Thursday, twice coming from behind to grab a vital point in the title race.

United need six points from their remaining five games to seal the title and the result could be wrapped up as soon as Sunday week when the Red Devils travel to Arsenal, depending on Manchester City's results this weekend.

Ferguson believes the determination and late rally - which has become a recurring theme for United this season - is reflected in their position on the table.

"We had to stand up to a lot but our players kept going," Sir Alex said. "We were behind twice but we came back and I thought we played like champions.

"We were magnificent in terms of our determination and courage to play. We don't like losing and we showed that again tonight so I was pleased with the result.

"It's a game closer to the title. We have five left - three at home, two away - and the players are showing they want to win it. There's no doubt about that. We've got a nice cushion with our lead but we don't want to make any mistakes."

Ferguson was enraged about Andy Carroll's late collision with David de Gea, which left the United goalkeeper requiring medical attention.

The Scot believes West Ham's physical approach, but insists his side were the more dominant side.

"We know how they play," Ferguson said. "The ball is in the air most of the time and you have to defend those things. They were very aggressive as you've seen tonight.

"There's no doubt it's a red card [for the challenge on De Gea]. It's obvious. The referee saw it differently. We're looking for players to be protected and didn't get that.

"David has been improving all the time and is developing into a fantastic keeper. It's just a matter of experience in the English game - he's got stronger. His training performances are really good and he's shown that again tonight. As we've been saying for quite a while, he's developing into a first-class goalkeeper."

Defender Phil Jones denied the result gives Manchester City a sniff of the title.

"Definitely," he told MUTV. "We've been confident throughout the season and nothing is going to change now.

"We've got a big game against Aston Villa on Monday night and I'm sure, if we can pick up three points there, it will stand us in great stead for Arsenal [the following Sunday].

"We knew we were going to be put under pressure with a lot of high balls and I think Rio [Ferdinand] and Vida [Nemanja Vidic] dealt with it well. It was a good point in the end. West Ham are no pushovers with big, strong players and I thought we coped with it."


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