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United not home and dry just yet

By Agence France-Presse in London | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-25 05:57

Fergie remains cautious despite team taking a 15-point lead at top of table

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says the Premier League title race is far from over despite seeing his side move 15 points clear of Manchester City after a 2-0 win at Queens Park Rangers.

With 11 games remaining, and City due to face third-place Chelsea on Sunday, Ferguson's side is in a dominant position, but the manager refused to declare his side to be champion elect.

"We're in a better position today (Saturday) than we were yesterday," he said.

"It's one game less and it's really important and the way we can approach it is by winning the next game and then trying to win the next game and seeing where it takes us."

Rafael da Silva set United on course for victory at QPR with an outstanding opening goal before Ryan Giggs marked his 999th appearance in senior soccer with the second 10 minutes from time.

Ferguson praised the contribution of Rafael, the young Brazilian fullback, who is emerging as a key figure in the league leader's lineup.

United not home and dry just yet

"He has three goals for us this season. The lad has had an absolutely magnificent season and is maturing all the time," Ferguson said.

And he said: "Ryan's got a good record of scoring here. This is maybe his fourth goal here. It was a crucial time because anything can happen with 10 minutes left - it only takes a second to score a goal.

"David de Gea made a great save from (Loic) Remy maybe 10 minutes before that but Ryan's goal put it to bed nicely."

QPR manager Harry Redknapp insists his side still has a chance of avoiding relegation despite lying at the foot of the table, seven points adrift of safety with just 11 games left.

He said: "I'm an optimist and I hope the players are, too. There is everything to play for still and every game is important.

"Everyone else has written us off but I haven't. I think we still have a chance."

Redknapp included Jose Bosingwa in his starting lineup for the first time since the fullback was disciplined for refusing to sit on the bench against Fulham in December.

"He's probably got 2 1/2 years left on his contract and I can't just pay his wages and not have him play," Redknapp said. "I took him to Swansea and didn't use him just to test his attitude and he has responded well."

United's top scorer, Robin van Persie, suffered an injury scare at Loftus Road but Ferguson hopes it will not keep the striker out of the club's forthcoming Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

Van Persie was forced out of the game in the 41st minute after falling into a television camera pit located behind one of the goals in the build-up to Rafael's opener.

The forward suffered a bruised hip but Ferguson is confident he will recover in time for the visit of Jose Mourinho's side to Old Trafford on March 5.

With the last-16 tie delicately balanced following the 1-1 first-leg draw in Spain, van Persie's absence would be a major blow to United's plans.

"He collided with a camera in a sort of a dug-out piece of ground. He collided with the base of that, which has given him a sore hip," said Ferguson.

"I would imagine he will be very tender and sore for a few days but hopefully he will be all right, particularly for the Real Madrid game."

(China Daily 02/25/2013 page23)

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