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Monday, April 6, 2009


Manchester United captain Gary Neville described Federico Macheda's last-gasp winner as "unbelievable" after the Italian teenager came off the bench to score a vital goal against Aston Villa.

United returned to the top of the Barclays Premier League after coming from behind to beat Martin O'Neill's side 3-2 at Old Trafford.

Macheda caught virtually everybody by surprise with a fabulous turn and strike in injury time but Neville said the youngster already had a reputation at the club as a quality goalscorer.

Federico Macheda

Heaven 17: United's young debutant Federico Macheda scores in the dying moments against Aston Villa before wheeling away to celebrate (below)

Federico Macheda

"I'm just grateful to him really," Neville told Sky Sports News.

"In the first half we fell apart a bit defensively and I think I paid a little bit for not playing for a couple of months.

"But in the second half we played the right way - we never stopped, kept passing the ball and got stronger as the game went on.

"And the quality he (Macheda) has shown there for the finish at the end is unbelievable."

The captain insisted that the team never lost hope of turning around a match they had been losing 2-1.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Lucky seven: Cristiano Ronaldo (far left) scores United's opener

"You never think you're going to lose," he said. "When you're out there you always think you can get something and I think when we got the second goal you always think you can get another one.

"You always know you're going to get a chance - Danny Welbeck had one before that and then the ball fell to Kiko (Macheda). We've not seen much of him before today but he's a great finisher and you would always want the ball to fall to him in the box."

Macheda, who ran over to his family after scoring, admitted he was in dreamland. "I think this is the day of my dreams - to score a goal like that on my debut," he said.

Sir Alex Ferguson believes that the Champions League encounter between Liverpool and Chelsea could prove vital to the sides' hopes of challenging Manchester United for the domestic title.

John Carew leaves Gary Neville and Edwin van der Sar watching as he heads home the visitors' first

Villa thriller: John Carew leaves Gary Neville and Edwin van der Sar watching as he heads home the visitors' first

United are now a point clear of Liverpool and four clear of Chelsea with a game in hand after the last-gasp victory at Old Trafford.

And Ferguson said that the team that emerges triumphant from the European clashes at Stamford Bridge and Anfield is likely to provide the biggest threat to his side in the title race.

"A lot of people are screaming Liverpool and saying they are on the charge at the moment and there is no question of that - we accept that challenge," Ferguson told Sky Sports News.

"But funnily enough, I think the winner of the Liverpool-Chelsea European tie will be our biggest threat - whoever wins that double-header, because of the knock-on effect.

"So many times it has become such an emotional fixture between the two clubs. There are never a lot of goals in it and they are very tight games. So whoever wins that, it will be a big step forward for them."

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