Manchester United FC midfielder Paul Scholes has set his sights on top spot in UEFA Champions League Group C after playing a typically influential role in Wednesday's 1-0 victory at Rangers FC that guaranteed the English club's place in the last 16.
Wayne Rooney's late penalty was enough to earn a victory that leaves Sir Alex Ferguson's team needing only to avoid defeat in their final outing against Valencia CF on 7 December to win the section.
It is vitally important to finish first in the group," Scholes, 36, said. "All of the top teams have done that so we want to beat Valencia and qualify as section winners. We've achieved what we set out to do at the start of the tournament, which was to qualify for the next stage, and we have managed to do that with a game to go."
Fellow midfielder Michael Carrick, meanwhile, praised Rooney's courage to step up and convert from the spot with three minutes to play. It was the forward's first Manchester United goal since August, in his first start in more than a month following injury.
"It's typical Wayne," the England international told UEFA.com. "He is a top player and although he would have been a bit nervous he stuck it away brilliantly. We always believed we would get a chance late on and, thankfully, we got the penalty."
Rangers winger Vladimír Weiss, however, was bitterly disappointed with the outcome in Glasgow, believing the Scottish champions were unfortunate not to secure a point. "We did really well and put a lot of effort into the game," said the Slovakian international, who is on loan at Ibrox from Manchester City FC.
I am really disappointed we lost because we worked so hard and had a few good chances to score. We wanted to go as far as we could in the Champions League and we knew Manchester United and Valencia would be favourites, but we have to be happy to qualify for the Europa League."
Home forward Steven Naismith was equally dejected, particularly having committed the foul that gave away the penalty, yet also paid tribute to the visitors who he expects to be challenging once again for the ultimate prize in May.
"Manchester United will be there or thereabouts and they are getting a few bodies back," Naismith said. "They were fortunate enough to rest a few players tonight but they are one of the best teams in the world. We gave as good as we got, but they were always going to have a lot of possession, they are a top-quality team."
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