Football: `The best we have played in my time'

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ALEX FERGUSON said that his Manchester United side had put up a "quite phenomenal performance" in Turin last night to reach their first European Cup final for 31 years.

"It's a fantastic night for the club, particularly with the start we made, losing two goals in the first 10 minutes," Ferguson said. "It's the nature of our club that we always do it the hard way and tonight we have done it in the most difficult way possible."

Ferguson hailed the triumph as the greatest display in his 13 years at Old Trafford. "To come to Juventus and to give the best club side in Europe over the last decade a two-goal start and win the match was phenomenal," he said. "The first 45 minutes was the best performance United have played in my time."

His jubilation was tinged with sadness for his captain, Roy Keane, and Paul Scholes, whose yellow cards mean they miss the final. "The disappointment for me is that Roy Keane and Paul Scholes will miss the final," Ferguson said. "It's a tragedy for them. I don't think it was a dirty match and I'm disappointed to lose two players of their standing. They were very unlucky."

Ferguson admitted that he feared the worst when Filippo Inzaghi scored two goals in the first 10 minutes.

"I thought it was another case of suicide which over the years we have done," he said. "The difference is that this team has great composure. I thought the first 45 minutes were brilliant. They composed themselves when they lost the second goal and started to express themselves very well. Every one of my players showed their ability to play with courage."