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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson eyeing next stage after Moscow win

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes his side are now well on course for the Champions League knock-out stages after edging past CSKA Moscow.

• CSKA Moscow 0-1 Man United

United maintained their 100% record in Group B after Antonio Valencia struck a late goal to secure a 1-0 win in the Russian capital on Thursday. With three games still remaining, Ferguson hopes his side can now secure their passage with something to spare.

Ferguson said: "We are very pleased with our performance. The situation in the group is now nine points. I have always maintained that you need 10 to qualify. We now have a home game against CSKA in two or three weeks' time which we hope can take us to the next stage."

Ferguson felt his team had produced a professional performance on the Luzhniki Stadium's artificial pitch.

He added: "In the first half I think we played with a lot patience, which is necessary when you are playing away from home. Experience in these sort of situations is always vital.

"In the second half I think we increased the tempo of the game and got more penetration. We created some good goal opportunities and if we have to wait to the 86th minute, so be it. We had to have the patience to win, and we did that."

He added: "The issues of the surface were not a problem. As I said before the game, good footballers can play on that quite easily."

Ferguson expressed his satisfaction with the performance of former Wigan Athletic star Valencia, who moments before his goal had rattled the crossbar. It was Valencia's second goal for the club, following on quickly from his first in last weekend's win over Bolton.

Ferguson said of the Ecuador international: "He has been the plus point for the last two weeks. He is settling into the club, his confidence is stronger and he has tremendous assets for a wee player - strength, balance, feet and a good crosser of the ball. The area he hadn't shown was goalscoring ability.

"We said when we signed him this was his challenge to progress as a footballer. Now he has scored two in two games and that will help him."

Ferguson confirmed his decision to substitute Rio Ferdinand just before the hour was merely precautionary ahead of Sunday's Premier League trip to rivals Liverpool.

United had already travelled to Russia without the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung.

Defender Fabio, who impressed on the left, was carried off late on but Ferguson said his problem was only cramp.

Defeat left CSKA Moscow with three points from their opening three games in the competition but new manager Juande Ramos remains hopeful of progress.

Ramos, the former Tottenam manager who took charge last month, said: "We had our chances but we didn't take them.

"I think we had a very good first half and in the second half we had chances in the first 10 minutes. We made it very hard for them for an hour. We have lost but we still have three games and we are going to fight for our chances."


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