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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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Ferdinand: Stop 'lynching' Wayne

Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand has declared it time to stop ''lynching'' Wayne Rooney.

•  Chelsea 0-1 Man Utd
• Ancelotti incensed by penalty snub
• Brewin: Rooney's redemption

Rooney will discover the extent of his punishment for the four-letter outburst at West Ham on Saturday that threatens a two-match ban that would rule him out of the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City at Wembley on April 16.

He put his problems behind him, netting the only goal in a 1-0 Champions League quarter-final first-leg win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge that leaves United favourites to book a last-four clash with either Inter Milan or, more probably, Schalke later this month. And Ferdinand feels it is should be the signal to call a halt to the attacks on his team-mate's character.

''We should follow him as a footballer rather than keep lynching him for a lot of the stuff that goes on,'' he said. ''I wouldn't say he is innocent in a lot of the stuff that has happened but sometimes because of the player he is and who he is the reaction can be over the top.

''Wayne Rooney swearing on TV, as much as I don't condone it, is not front page news. There are bigger things going on in the world. There are things happening in Libya and Ivory Coast and we are talking about Wayne Rooney on the front page of newspapers because he swore at a camera. I don't condone it but because it is him everyone goes over the top.''

The final moments of Wednesday night's game saw Chelsea aggrieved after two penalty appeals were turned down as Patrice Evra brought down Ramires and Fernando Torres went down under pressure from Antonio Valencia.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson praised his side's performance, but claimed he did not feel guilty about the late penalty decision.

Ferguson said: ''Yeah, someone said it could have been a penalty. It was the first penalty decision we've had in seven years, so we're due one. But I don't feel guilty about that at all. It was a 50-50 from where I was and I don't know what the contact situation was.''

On a second penalty claim in the dying moments for which Chelsea striker Fernando Torres received the yellow card, Ferguson added: ''He dived, he got booked for it.''

Ferguson, however, was delighted with Rooney's performance after five days under the spotlight following his four-letter outburst at Upton Park on Saturday.

''Wayne just played his game. He got a lot of abuse and late tackles but he played his game and that shows the courage of the players,'' he said. ''He was important on the counter-attack and he was in tremendous form and he has given us a great chance of reaching the semi.

''He's now been more regular with his goalscoring which, in the last part of the season, is going to be important to us. That was important for us tonight. We were pleased with that performance.''

Ferguson also promised not to be complacent about the second leg at Old Trafford.

''We have to be very careful and have to give a top performance, but the atmosphere will help us,'' he said. ''I hope we get through Saturday's game without any further injuries. Anderson will be back against Fulham. It'll be a tight game at Old Trafford.''

United's one sour note was the sight of full-back Rafael being carried off with a knee injury which forced Antonio Valencia to go to right-back.

''They overloaded in midfield, and you have to be clever how you handle that,'' he added. ''Ji-Sung Park was fantastic in there and did a great job. We did well considering we had to take Rafael off, with Valencia going to right-back.

''It's an advantage, but the biggest advantage is Old Trafford. It'll be an electric atmosphere.''

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