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Aug 6, 2009

Ferguson purrs over Valencia's Old Trafford bow

Sir Alex Ferguson hailed the impact Antonio Valencia has made at Manchester United after the Old Trafford new boy set up both goals in Wednesday night's 2-0 win over Valencia.

Valencia has been Ferguson's most expensive recruit during a relatively quiet summer, the winger arriving from Wigan for £17m.

His introduction to United ranks was delayed due to work permit problems but the former Wigan man is making up for lost time in his quest to fill the void created by the world-record exit of Cristiano Ronaldo.

"It was a very exciting performance,'' said Ferguson. "It was a real winger's effort. He showed great speed, power and balance.

"Coming to our club he has immediately taken on the challenge and we are very pleased with what we have seen from him so far.''

Valencia provided the right-wing cross that Wayne Rooney headed home seven minutes after the interval and, from a similar position, presented 19-year-old Tom Cleverley with the chance to show Ferguson what he can do with a neat finish late on.

Ferguson has confirmed Cleverley may be set for another spell away from United after spending time on loan with Leicester last term.

However, Michael Owen is very much a Manchester United player after receiving a warm welcome from the Red Devils faithful.

Owen also had a chance to impress watching England coach Fabio Capello. The Italian overlooked him throughout last season, citing lack of fitness and poor form as the reasons.

Owen has remained healthy in seven games since his surprise capture by Ferguson, only to fluff his lines in front of Capello, wasting a series of glorious chances - the best of which was provided by Rooney.

While it could be argued merely getting in position to score was a plus, whether Capello will be as easily won over remains to be seen. However, Ferguson was delighted with the striker's effort.

"It would have been nice for Michael to score - he deserved one,'' said the Scot. "He probably should have had four. He showed marvellous movement at times and when he took that great pass from Wayne Rooney, he put the ball over the keeper but just past the post.''

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