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“Jones and Smalling were fantastic, absolutely brilliant. The two of them were absolutely marvellous and I couldn’t be more pleased. They have been injured for a while and needed games, so today would only help them."

- Sir Alex Ferguson

16/01/2013 23:01, Report by Mark Froggatt
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Sir Alex praises defensive duo

Sir Alex Ferguson praised the performances of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling after Manchester United beat West Ham to book a place in the FA Cup fourth round on Wednesday.

The Reds boss was delighted with the two centre-backs, who both produced outstanding displays to thwart the Hammers’ daunting physical presence and seal a comfortable 1-0 win at Old Trafford.

“Jones and Smalling were fantastic, absolutely brilliant,” Sir Alex told MUTV. “The two of them were absolutely marvellous and I couldn’t be more pleased. They have been injured for a while and needed games, so today would only help them.

“We have several other players who needed a game like Nani, Rooney, Anderson and Büttner. So we had six players who had a run-out at a crucial time of the season with Real Madrid coming up ad Tottenham on Sunday, so that is good news for us tonight.  

“We missed a lot of chances tonight really and we played some good football at times. The 15 minute period after half-time was the hardest for us because they just knocked that ball into the box, there were so many bodies all shoving all over the place.

“You really have to handle that and thankfully our two centre-halves were absolutely magnificent in how they dealt with it. It was a physical contest to be under and you have to stand up to it.”

United were on top for much of the game and created several goal scoring opportunities but ultimately stumbled at the finishing line and were perhaps guilty of missing too many chances – although Sir Alex is content that his side were inventive on a difficult night.

“It was a magnificent pass from Anderson for the first goal and it was unselfish play from Chicharito to roll it across for Wayne, who scored an easy goal. We had one cleared off the line from Nani, Chris Smalling could maybe have

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