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Jan 1, 2011

Ferguson admits lucky escape

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Gary Neville was fortunate to escape punishment after he appeared to bring Graham Dorrans down in the area during Manchester United's 2-1 win at West Brom.

The game had started well for United, with Wayne Rooney having scored his first goal in open play for the club since March when he headed in Patrice Evra's cross on three minutes.

However, the hosts equalised through a stunning James Morrison strike and for a long time looked the more likely to go on and win it. They may well have done so had referee Chris Foy awarded a foul after Neville sent Dorrans flying in the area, with a penalty and sending off appearing inevitable.

Foy waved play on and, although Rio Ferdinand fouled Jerome Thomas to hand West Brom a second-half penalty, Peter Odemwingie failed to convert the spot kick.

United then claimed victory when substitute Javier Hernandez headed in after 75 minutes.

"It was a really tough game on a greasy pitch," Ferguson told Sky Sports. "It's a massive result for us today. Over the years we've had to battle out games and we have had to do that today.

"In the second half we started to play a bit better. We had to make changes with one or two injuries."

On the Neville incident, he added: "Gary was lucky to stay on. It was a penalty. At first I thought he had got a touch but when I saw it again, he was lucky."

Rooney, clearly relieved at ending his goal drought, appeared to have suffered a significant injury at the end of the game and had to leave the field.

However, with United having used all their substitutes, he returned to the field and was hungrily chasing the play once more.

"That's him," Ferguson said. "It looks as though he is out for a couple of weeks and he comes back on. That is the courage he showed.

"Overall, I thought that performance was world-class. He was absolutely magnificent and drove us the whole way. He is a bit unlucky not to score a couple of extra goals, but that one today will give him unbelievable confidence.

"Hopefully he kicks on from there."

West Brom boss Roberto Di Matteo was left frustrated that Foy did not take any action against Neville.

"It was very clear from everyone's view," he said. "Only the main man who was supposed to see it didn't. I spoke with the fourth official during the game but he can't do anything about it and nothing is going to change now.

"I don't know if there is anything in the referee's mind, but it was so clear. Neville didn't touch the ball and my player is through.

"I would have liked to see what we would have been like against ten men. It wouldn't have meant we would have won but you never know."

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