Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted his Manchester United side came away from QPR with all three points after sensing there were ingredients for a surprise defeat in west London.
Rafael gave the Reds the lead with a wonderful strike in the first half at Loftus Road but it took a late Ryan Giggs goal to stave off the threat of a nervy finish against the Barclays Premier League basement-dwellers.
Sir Alex made seven changes to the side that beat Reading in the FA Cup and admitted he always felt it would be a testing afternoon against Harry Redknapp’s men.
“Today was about our determination and concentration at the back,” he told MUTV. “We did that part very well.
“I decided to play all my experienced players: Ferdinand, Vidic, Carrick, Giggs, van Persie, Evra. We needed plenty of experience because it’s not an easy place to come to.
“It was a scrappy game for a lot of the time, the pitch was lively and it’s a tight ground. It was an ideal situation for a shock but fortunately we didn’t get that.
“I thought we played much better in the second half, when we created some good chances. One goal is never enough but Ryan’s goal with 10 minutes to go killed the game.”
Rafael’s 23rd-minute strike – a first-time rising drive from 20 yards – is a certain candidate for United’s Goal of the Season and it capped another impressive display by the Brazilian.
“I said to him he must have closed his eyes!” Sir Alex joked. “He’s had an absolutely magnificent season: he’s got three goals for us and he’s maturing all the time. He had a fantastic day.”
With 11 games to go, United are 15 points clear, at least temporarily as second-placed Manchester City face Chelsea on Sunday. But Sir Alex is