'Fantastic' United thrill Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson knows Manchester United FC had to produce a "fantastic performance" to eliminate an FC Barcelona team who went out "with heads held high".

Sir Alex Ferguson is looking forward to a second UEFA Champions League final
Sir Alex Ferguson is looking forward to a second UEFA Champions League final ©Getty Images

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager
We're all delighted to be in the final. We needed a fantastic performance tonight and we got one. Yes, it was a long night – we played against a fantastic football club and a great team. It's not easy to beat that Barça team – they played excellent football. We had to concentrate fully at the back and we did that. We protected the space well and could have scored more goals. In the first half I thought we were too nervous – we nearly got caught out by [Lionel] Messi right at the start on the edge of the box. But in the second half we were much more confident. When you are 1-0 down, you have a go, and Barcelona certainly had a go. We had to hang on in the last 15 minutes but we defended very well. Paul Scholes scored a fantastic goal. We can't expect him to score as many as when he was younger but he certainly scored a good one tonight. I don't care who we play in the final – the important thing is we're there – and I think we deserve to be there. The result should also be a big boost [for our Premier League campaign].

Frank Rijkaard, Barcelona coach
We did everything but score. It was an even game. I'd say we had the better of the play, but the rules state that the team that scores most goals wins, and Manchester United did that so they go to the final, not us. It is a difficult defeat to stomach, tough to take, but now is not the time for recriminations. People can draw their conclusions at the end of the season but we need to show character and courage in the remaining games. Naturally everyone is sad and deflated in the dressing room but, after the way we played, I think we can leave Old Trafford with our heads held high. I have no intention of quitting – the thought hasn't entered my head. It would be different if the players felt that way, but they don't. Barcelona is a big club. This is the most difficult time of the season for us, everyone is disappointed, but we all need to show character and pull in the same direction. Winning the Champions League is not easy. Once you're at the top, it's hard to stay there. We gave our best, as we always do, but unfortunately tonight it wasn't quite good enough.

Top