Fergie hails his ‘battling’ side

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MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson declared that his side’s “unbelievable” 3-1 victory at Tottenham proved they were ready to push Manchester City all the way in the Barclays Premier League title race.

United produced a trademark smash-and-grab performance to move back within two points of City at the top of the table in a game Ferguson described as his side’s toughest on the road this season.

The match was the last of a tough run of fixtures for the champions, who have a much easier run before travelling to the Etihad Stadium on April 30 for what could be a title decider. Ferguson said: “We know exactly what we have to do. You can drop surprise points and I think both sides will, but the important thing is to drop less points than our opponents. A battling performance today tells you that we are up for it.”

Ferguson admitted his side had been second best for most of the game.

He added: “It’s an entirely unbelievable result. I would say that’s our hardest away game of the season.”

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew and Sunderland counterpart Martin O’Neill found themselves embroiled in a war of words after a tempestuous derby came to a dramatic 1-1 conclusion.

The game saw one penalty scored, another missed, eight yellow cards, two red cards on the pitch and a third in the tunnel, a last-gasp equaliser and repeated confrontations between the respective benches.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, who had celebrated prematurely when a spot-kick was awarded for his team to the clear annoyance of the Sunderland bench, said: “Listen, let’s not all get carried away here. This has been a great game of football.

“What happens on the bench sometimes gets out of hand, silly things are said. It happens all the time and you just get on with it.”

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill, who indicated he would not be taking up the offer of a glass of wine with Pardew, was able to take plenty of positives from his first taste of the derby.

He said: “It was everything that people had told me about, everything, absolutely everything.

“Hostility, which I am kind of used to - that’s even from my own fans - fervour, everything, everything. In a perverse sort of way, I was enjoying it.”

Fulham manager Martin Jol indicated talks to extend Pavel Pogrebnyak’s stay in west London are under way after watching the Russian forward fire a hat-trick.

Pogrebnyak continued his superb start to life in the Premier League with a treble in the 5-0 thrashing of struggling Wolves at Craven Cottage.”