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Next
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 13, 2006

We could have scored ten, says Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United could easily have scored 10 goals on Wednesday night as they kicked off their Champions League campaign with a compelling victory in their first competitive match against Celtic.

United emerged 3-2 winners following a pulsating end-to-end match at Old Trafford - after which Ferguson praised the positive attitude of Gordon Strachan's side.

Ferguson said: 'We have a lot of teams who come here with five at the back, but at least Celtic had a positive nature to them. Having said that, we could have scored 10. We had some slack finishing, and Artur Boruc made some fantastic saves.

'Louis Saha could have beaten the scoring record in Europe tonight. He was fantastic.'

The Scots shocked United by taking the lead through Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink after a defensive lapse of concentration by Rio Ferdinand.

Two goals from Saha - one from the penalty spot after Ryan Giggs had been brought down by Boruc - gave United the lead before Shunsuke Nakamura equalised from a free-kick.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer then scored his first European goal for three years to clinch the game for United.

Ferguson said: 'We encouraged Celtic. A lack of concentration saw us go 1-0 down, and they made it one hell of a game.

'But we have done fantastic to get back and go ahead 2-1 - then we gave away another slack goal.'

The United manager also gave Strachan hope of progressing to the knockout phase.

Ferguson added: 'People will be surprised with them. I don't think Celtic will lie down.

'If we had gone in front it would have been difficult for them. But Jiri Jarosik did particularly well for them, and the spirit of the game was fantastic. I wish everybody would bring 6,000 fans down here with them. It's a better atmosphere, and there was a good edge to the game.'

One sour note was a hamstring injury to Giggs, which saw him substituted by Solskjaer in the first half.

It is likely to keep him out of action for four weeks and came hard on the heels of the news that midfielder Ji-Sung Park will undergo an ankle operation tomorrow which will keep him out for three months.

Ferguson said: 'It's a blow for us.'

Strachan, meanwhile, felt his players made too many mistakes but maintained referee Lubos Michel was wrong to award the first-half penalty to United.

'It was not a penalty - there was no mistake from us there,' he said.

'But I can live with that. I don't think it was a penalty. I'm not slamming. I'm not blasting - but it was not a penalty. The ref made one mistake - we made numerous. Why should we criticise him for making one?

'Our flair players did not pass the ball as well as they could.

'Our problem is waking up tomorrow and living with regrets. But they were honest mistakes. We gave the ball away, and there is nothing we can do but get on with it.'

Strachan singled out goal-scorer Vennegoor of Hesselink for special praise but was proud of the way his side took the game to United.

Strachan said: 'Whatever system you play, if you misplace passes you'll have a problem. But to come back like that, they really pleased me with their attitude. The mistakes didn't scare them.

'Hesselink was absolutely fantastic. They worked hard as a team - but in the morning they'll get up and say 'If only'.'

As for Ferguson, he is looking forward already later this month to tasting revenge against Benfica who wrecked United's Champions League hopes last season.

Ferguson said: 'Against Benfica it will be a different bloody result next time - believe me about that.'