14/04/2013 16:14, Report by Adam Marshall
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Boss praises troops

Sir Alex Ferguson was full of praise for his players after a deserved 2-0 win at Stoke City on Sunday.

Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie scored the goals and the celebrations that followed the Dutchman's penalty will live long in the memory as the Reds took an important step towards a historic 20th league title.

After losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup and to Manchester City in the derby, some pressure was on the runaway leaders going into the hostile environment at the Britannia Stadium. 

"It was a big one coming on the back of the defeat on Monday night and it was essential for us in terms of standing up and being counted," the boss told MUTV. "Everyone did a great job today.

"I said at the beginning of the game that the wind would affect the ball and it was the worst day possible to come to Stoke. They are a handful and it was a really tough match. Credit to the players as they battled all day."

Sir Alex was delighted to see van Persie end his 10-game goal drought but less enamoured to be embraced so vigorously by his enthralled top scorer.

"He nearly killed me!" he joked. "He forgets I’m 71! I always think you should celebrate goals – the boys celebrated right away and it was an emotional part of it. The supporters were encouraged by that.

"It was an absolutely tremendous penalty under pressure, with the wind blowing the ball off the spot two or three times," the manager stated. "He arrowed it right in the corner, a perfect penalty. He did well to get us a penalty after a tremendous ball out to him by Wayne and he was brought down. 

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Premier League