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Neville applauds deserving United

Manchester United FC skipper Gary Neville said the English champions were well worth their 1-0 win at PFC CSKA Moskva, declaring: "We were the team that was trying to win the game."

Manchester United captain Gary Neville jumps for a high ball with CSKA's Georgi Schennikov
Manchester United captain Gary Neville jumps for a high ball with CSKA's Georgi Schennikov ©Getty Images

Manchester United FC captain Gary Neville said his side deserved their victory at PFC CSKA Moskva as they were the team pushing for a winner in the closing stages.

'Trying to win'
Antonio Valencia earned United their third win in Group B when he beat Igor Akinfeev from a narrow angle after Dimitar Berbatov had flicked on Nani's left-wing cross with four minutes remaining. Valencia had rattled the CSKA crossbar minutes earlier and Neville said: "In the end we were the team that was trying to win the game and that showed. They seemed to be content with the draw."

Neville felt United largely controlled a game in which they had 57 per cent of possession and, moreover, ten shots on target to the home side's two. "We played a good game," he said. "I don't know the figures, but we seemed to have a lot of the ball. We controlled the tempo and had a constant threat down the left side through Fabio and Nani."

Valencia praised
He went on to praise Valencia, the right winger signed to replace Cristiano Ronaldo whose winning strike was his first in the UEFA Champions League. "Valencia was the most important player of the match as he scored the only goal," Neville said. "He constantly put pressure on the CSKA left-back with his pace and trickery. Nani did well too, we actually had a few good performers."

Wrap it up
With a maximum nine points, Sir Alex Ferguson's team hold a five-point lead in their section. Assessing the opposition, Neville said VfL Wolfsburg had proved the "strongest" so far; the aim now is to wrap up qualification in the return against CSKA on 3 November. "We'll try to finish the job against CSKA at Old Trafford so that the manager can utilise the squad and we can concentrate on Premier League matches, which are also very important."

Artificial turf
United custodian Edwin van der Sar, who had only two shots to save, admitted it "wasn't the hardest game" despite the challenge of playing on an artificial surface, rather than the natural turf laid at the Luzhniki when United faced Chelsea there in the 2008 final. "In the first half we tried to get used to the pitch and we created some chances after the break," said the Dutchman. Midfielder Miloš Krasić spoke for the CSKA when he lamented their failure to fashion openings at the other end: "We attacked well enough, but didn't create any clear chances."