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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson targets top spot after Celtic draw

Sir Alex Ferguson has set his sights on reaching the next stage of the Champions League on a high, despite being pegged back by Celtic at Parkhead.

Gordon Strachan's side looked likely to run out 1-0 winners until Ryan Giggs scrambled an equaliser from close range.

And, although a 1-1 draw meant they did not seal their place in the last 16, Ferguson is still intent on topping Group E.

Danish minnows Aalborg could pip them, although it would need an unlikely four-goal triumph at Old Trafford next month to complete the miracle turnaround.

To all intents and purposes, United will be playing for group supremacy when they head to Spain to face Villarreal in three weeks. And Ferguson wants to complete the job.

''We want to win the group,'' declared Ferguson. ''This result does no harm, of course. We didn't lose and the performance in the second half was the most encouraging thing.''

The Scot accepted his team were fortunate to leave his home city with a share of the spoils. United were not outplayed by the Scots - indeed, for long periods in the second-half they dominated.

But until Giggs struck six minutes from time, after Artur Boruc had failed to hold a Cristiano Ronaldo thunderbolt, the equaliser to Scott McDonald's well-taken opener looked as though it would not come.

''We deserved to get a point but with minutes to go you think you are going to lose it, that it is not going to be your night,'' said Ferguson. ''Losing the early goal set us back but that happens in football.

''It gave Celtic a boost and it gave the crowd a boost. You could say half-time came at a good time for us.'' During the break, Ferguson introduced Dimitar Berbatov and the £30.75million man brought some stability to United's attack.

Although Berbatov was not directly involved in Giggs' goal, the Bulgarian's physical presence and patience on the ball meant no amount of heroic Celtic defending could repel United.

''We bring Berbatov on and it gave them another problem,'' said Ferguson. ''The positions he picks up are very difficult to pinpoint. Also, the urgency of the team, knowing they were behind, came through.''

The result puts United in good heart ahead of Saturday's showdown with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

''We are ready for a big game on Saturday now. It's never easy picking teams with the squad we've got but I managed to rest Patrice Evra even if doing the same with Dimitar and Wayne Rooney was more difficult.''

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