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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson rues missed chance to win at Chelsea

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was left to rue a missed opportunity to end Chelsea's unbeaten Premier League home record after failing to kill them off at Stamford Bridge.

Ji-Sung Park gave United an early lead and it needed a Salomon Kalou header 10 minutes from full-time to extend Chelsea's record to 85 matches.

It also keeps Luiz Felipe Scolari's men six points ahead of United in the early stages of the title race.

"We played with great tempo in the first 20 minutes - the real shame was that we didn't go for the jugular at 1-0 up.'' Ferguson said.

"We had control of the match at that point but we eased off and allowed them to get to half-time.''

Chelsea lost Deco to an apparent thigh strain in the warm-up, then Ricardo Carvalho limped off with a knee injury before the opening goal.

Scolari changed things at the half-time break when he brought on Didier Drogba to partner Nicolas Anelka in attack, then Kalou came off the bench to grab a point.

By that time, Ferguson had already lost goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar to a knee injury who he replaced with Tomasz Kuszczak.

"Didier Drogba came on and gave us a different kind of threat,'' Ferguson added. "He is big and aggressive and made it more difficult for us physically.

"Edwin suffered a blow to his knee. It is a bit sore but he should be okay for next week.''

Sir Alex Ferguson was left biting his tongue at the performance of referee Mike Riley.

The visitors were lucky the damage was not even worse given Cristiano Ronaldo got away with a blatant dive just after his introduction as a second-half substitute and Rio Ferdinand appeared to charge right into Didier Drogba as Riley blew for full-time.

As both Ronaldo and Ferdinand were among the seven offenders, United could easily have been cursing a red card as well as the glut of yellows which leaves them facing an automatic FA fine.

Yet Ferguson did not believe there had been a bad tackle in the game.

"The game is being screened worldwide,'' he reflected. "Everyone is watching it and something like that goes on. It was a competitive game but I did not think there was one bad tackle in it.''

Apart from Ferdinand and Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Dimitar Berbatov, Gary Neville, Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra were cautioned.

"People are saying, 'What is going on here?' but it is difficult to say anything about the referee,'' added Ferguson. "I do not want to get involved.''

United's players clearly felt the same way as their manager as they left Stamford Bridge, although Riley's performance is sure to get dissected by the FA before they take action.

The number of bookings - Chelsea had one as well - certainly went against the principles of the FA's much-trumpeted 'Respect' campaign.

"I am not surprised,'' said Luiz Felipe Scolari. "That is what the referee is there for. If players do not respect him, it should be yellow and red cards. It doesn't matter who you are - Liverpool or Manchester United, whoever.''

However, the Chelsea coach said he was puzzled at the bizarre ending, with Riley blowing for time as Drogba was about to receive treatment.

"It was strange that he finished the game at that time but we need to accept his decision.''

Scolari, who is set to sign defensive midfielder Mineiro within 24 hours, was pleased with his side's spirit, although he does not care about the amazing record they have at home.

"For me, the record is nothing. The record is whether we win the championship. It might mean something for the fans but not for me,'' Scolari said. "They [the players] have a fantastic spirit. I said before the game Michael Ballack had maybe 45 minutes in him and Didier Drogba 45 minutes.

"Michael played 70 minutes because of his spirit and he wants to win - he gave more than I expected. I have many problems in terms of injuries and I have to change the team but that is my job.''

Scolari does not feel the title is not a two-horse race at the moment and admitted it is too early in the season to make such a claim.

He added: "There's not just the two of us - there are five or six teams. After maybe 20 games, maybe two teams will go more in front but now there are five teams together.''


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