Football: United and Cole feel title tingle

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The Independent Online
Manchester United's awesome, ominous Premiership form continued yesterday as they confirmed their position on top of the table with a 3-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield. It left their manager, Alex Ferguson, with a "special tingle" and Juventus's watching scout Narcisso Pezzotti with much to report in advance of Wednesday's Champions' League match between the two clubs.

Andy Cole scored two to make it 12 goals in his last eight games and David Beckham struck home his first direct free-kick of the season to overwhelm an initially promising, ultimately deficient Liverpool. There was hope for the home crowd when Liverpool equalised with a Robbie Fowler penalty, but this was shortlived as they were beaten by the same scoreline as last April when United saw them off for their fourth title in five seasons.

"When you win big games like this, there is always a special tingle about you," said Ferguson. "A lot of points from the game were good for us, some of them patchy, but we worked very hard and deserved it.

"I think we are stronger than Liverpool at the moment. They are young through the side and it makes it more difficult when we are playing well. I thought their penalty was a bit dodgy but the important thing was how we responded. I looked around at my players and could see they weren't going to let it get to them.

"I always thought Cole and Teddy Sheringham had the edge on the Liverpool defenders. In fact, Cole was outstanding again and it's down to playing regularly, being over the injuries. Beckham's strike was stunning. I hope it's the start of a run."

"It's a hell of a distance," admitted the Liverpool manager, Roy Evans, of the 12-point gap United have now opened up over his team. "One year under Joe Fagan we were third from bottom and finished second but to do that we have got to be better than the team we played today. Although we gave away some pretty dismal goals, you have to give United credit.

"We are behind them, no doubt about it. Their youngsters have great experience now. They came here as a unit, stayed organised and exploited their chances," Evans, in charge in his 200th match, added. "I'll probably be getting the sack again this week," he said with a smile.

Chelsea's Graeme Le Saux was accused by Tottenham fans last night of sparking a crowd disturbance at White Hart Lane in which a policeman and a steward were injured. Police are investigating complaints that Le Saux had made gestures to the supporters following the first goal in his side's 6-1 victory.

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