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Ferguson hails ''fantastic'' Berbatov after brace

Dimitar Berbatov is on the verge of living up to his £30.75 million price tag according to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after the Bulgarian scored his second successive Champions League brace on Tuesday.

United inflicted Celtic's 18th defeat in 19 Champions League away games with the 3-0 win at Old Trafford as the Red Devils notched their 16th consecutive victory in the competition, and Ferguson singled out Berbatov for special praise.

''Dimitar produced some fantastic pieces of football,'' said Ferguson. ''The players are starting to understand what type of player he is a bit more now.

''I always feel he produces passes that mean something. Three or four of them were absolutely superb and overall he has five goals for us already, so he is making a terrific contribution.''

Although the languid 27-year-old's two goals against Celtic had a hint of offside about them they became Berbatov's fourth and fifth goals of the season and Ferguson believes that with goals will come confidence.

While Berbatov's goals appeared to be offside and were allowed to stand, Wayne Rooney had a goal ruled out for offside, though replays suggested the striker had timed his run perfectly to latch onto Cristiano Ronaldo's through ball.

However, Rooney eventually got his name on the scoresheet bagging his ninth goal in seven games for club and country.

The England striker's rich scoring vein is all the more impressive after he failed to score in his first six club games this season and Ferguson believes if Rooney keeps up his performance levels he could emulate Ronaldo, who the United manager expects to land numerous world player of the year prizes.

''Wayne is capable of getting to that level,'' said Ferguson. ''Both him and Cristiano were teenagers when they came to us but their progress has been fantastic.

''The only reason we are not talking about Wayne at the same level as Cristiano is the fact one of them scored 42 goals last season. That is why Cristiano should win the Ballon D'Or. If Wayne can get to that sort of level, he is there.''

But for once, Ronaldo found himself upstaged as United eased home. Even without Rio Ferdinand, who should be fit to face Everton on Saturday after a picking up a minor groin strain in training, United had too much class for the Scottish champions.

A point in the return match at Parkhead in a fortnight should be enough to take the Red Devils into the knockout stages, although Ferguson is taking nothing for granted.

''It was a bad night for Celtic,'' he said. ''I just felt we were always on the attack. The speed of our play was very good and we have to think a result in Glasgow will get us through.

''But Celtic have a very good record up there, so it will be a difficult game.''

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