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Rooney: Title now United's to lose
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-27 10:06

LONDON: Wayne Rooney claimed a third Premier League title was Manchester United's to throw away after his man-of-match display helped the champions mount a second-half rally to beat Tottenham 5-2 on Saturday.

Rooney: Title now United's to lose
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo (C) scores from the penalty spot during their English Premier League soccer match against Tottenham Hotspur in Manchester, northern England, April 25, 2009. [Agencies]

Trailing 2-0 at the interval, the champions built on a controversial penalty decision to sink Spurs and reclaim a three-point lead over Liverpool, who had beaten Hull 3-1 earlier in the day.

With the added advantage of a game in hand, United now know that, even if their closest rivals keep winning, ten points from their final five games will be enough to equal Liverpool's record of 18 English league titles.

"We are in a great position now, we have to make sure we take advantage," said Rooney. "With fives games left it is only ours to throw away."

The evening had looked like ending very differently after the lively Aaron Lennon set up Darren Bent and then Luka Modric for Spurs' first-half goals.

Rooney: Title now United's to lose

United looked unstoppable by the end but their comeback was launched by a disputed penalty, Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes having got his fingers to the ball before his dive floored Michael Carrick.

Cristiano Ronaldo converted the resulting spot-kick and United added another three in the space of 15 minutes.

Rooney fired in an equalizer that Gomes might have saved then delivered the cross which saw Ronaldo claim his second with a diving header. Rooney then claimed his second before Dimitar Berbatov bundled in the fifth against his former club.

Ronaldo claimed United would have won without the help of the disputed penalty.

"The boss said at half-time that if we score one goal we would score three or four and this is what happened," the Portuguese winger said.

Ferguson admitted that the penalty decision could have gone the other way and that his "too slow and casual" side had deserved to be trailing at the interval.

"We have got a break today but that does not deflect from a fantastic second half performance," the Scot said. "After we got the goal we were absolutely electric."

Even Ferguson felt it had been a fortunate call, although his obvious pleasure at the manner in which his team played thereafter did not extend to him celebrating what would be the 11th English league title of his career.

Rooney: Title now United's to lose

"It would have made the title race wide open if we had lost this," said Ferguson.

"We would have been level with Liverpool with a game in hand and these games in hand don't matter to me. The best indication is the points you have at this moment.

"We have five games left, our opponents Liverpool and Chelsea have four, and we are whittling them down one by one. We are in a better position today than we were on Wednesday and we are one goal better off than we were on Wednesday.

"But I don't even think about Liverpool. What we have to remember is how slow we played in the first half and make sure we play at our pace. We will be much better."

Liverpool had done their job with a comfortable win at Hull, Xabi Alonso's first-half strike and a second-half double from Dirk Kuyt on his 100th Premier League appearance prompting Reds boss Rafael Benitez to argue that the title race was still alive.

"Nothing is over," the Spaniard said. "This was a good win because Hull made it hard for us but all we can do is keep winning and see what happens."

Chelsea left big guns Michael Essien, Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba on the bench for their trip to West Ham with one eye on Tuesday's trip to Barcelona for the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.

But they still had sufficient quality to overcome their London rivals 1-0.


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