Ferguson impressed

Saturday 19 October 2002

Manchester United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson was a relieved man after watching his side come away from Loftus Road with a hard-earned point after Fabien Barthez saved a Steed Malbranque penalty in a key moment.

With the match level at 1-1, Steve Marlet burst into the box but was brought down by fellow countryman Laurent Blanc. The referee made no hesitation in pointing to the spot, much to the disapproval of Ferguson.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, the United boss dismissed Fulham's penalty and insisted that his side were unlucky not to be awarded a spot kick.

"The referee was very quick to give their penalty," said Ferguson. "But it was a great game of football. I've just had a look at them now on the television replays. I think with Fulham's penalty, the player overran it. There was a slight brush from Blanc but it was very, very soft. I don't think it was a penalty.

Ferguson continued, "It's clear that we should have had a penalty. The one where it was going through to Scholes, the player handled it and he has prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity. It was a clear penalty kick to me."

It's debatable whether Barthez's delaying tactics had any baring on Malbranque's penalty, nonetheless, Steed's placed effort was clawed away by the French 'keeper after what seemed like an eternity.

With Fulham missing out on that goalscoring opportunity and with a number of others going begging, Ferguson was suitably impressed with Jean Tigana's side.

He said, "I think they're a very good side. Their record here this season is exceptionally good. They are very difficult to beat. It's not a bad result for us. We had to make changes for the game today.

"All the players in our team - or most of them anyway - have had international games in midweek. Fulham had only one player on international duty. It does make a difference that. They were very fresh looking, and they are a very good side. I was impressed with them."