Ferguson praises persistent Man United, Tottenham beaten

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LONDON - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson praised his side’s persistence as they pinched another late winner Saturday to step up their title challenge.

Ji-Sung Park scored his second goal of the game - in injury time - to give his side a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, despite fielding a weakened side.

“We have done really well to get a result,” Ferguson said. “You have to admire the perseverance of the team because we have done it so many times.

“But it was a long struggle today because we made so many changes.”

Park put United ahead in the first half but Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s 66th-minute equalizer looked to have denied them victory, only for Park to cut in from the right and fire a crucial winner three minutes into time added on.

The victory put United within two points of leaders Chelsea, who play at Liverpool Sunday.

But the win was marred by yet another injury to Owen Hargreaves, just six minutes into his comeback from a long-term hamstring problem, his first start since Sep 2008.

“We took a gamble,” Ferguson said. “We thought by doing that it would give us a compact midfield with experience. But he only lasted five minutes. It was a disaster.

“He has hurt his hamstring, which is unbelievable. It put us under the cosh.”

Tottenham Hotspur came back down to earth with a bang as they were beaten 4-2 at Bolton Wanderers, who leapfrogged them into fifth place in the English Premier League.

Four days after they beat European champions Inter Milan in the Champions League, Tottenham found themselves three goals down with 15 minutes to go and a late riposte was too little too late.

After a poor first half an hour, Kevin Davies put Bolton in front with a fine left-foot shot, although replays suggested the goal should have been ruled out for off-side.

Gretar Steinsson fired them further ahead with a fine finish and when Davies scored his second goal from the penalty spot on 76 minutes, the match seemed over.

But Alan Hutton curled a brilliant left-foot strike into the far corner to breathe life into Tottenham and Roman Pavlyuchenko smashed a stunning left-foot volley to make it 3-2 with three minutes still to play.

Tottenham poured forward in search of an equalizer but Bolton finished them off when Davies headed Petrov through on goal and the substitute flicked a left-foot finish home for the fourth.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said his side was guilty of some sloppy defending.

“We have obviously disappointed. They got after us, they did well, worked hard, pressed, did not let us play,” Redknapp said.

“We tried to be solid. But we went one down, I bring on another striker and go 4-4-2 and we’re open as a barn door. If you do not defend well enough you get what happened today. We got punished, we did not defend well enough.”

Sunderland moved up to seventh with a 2-0 win over Stoke City, thanks to two goals by Asamoah Gyan, while a last-gasp equalizer from Brede Hangeland gave Fulham a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.

Everton were held to a 2-2 draw at Blackpool, while Blackburn Rovers beat Wigan 2-1 and bottom side West Ham United earned a valuable point thanks to a 2-2 draw at Birmingham.

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