Penalty claims 'even out' says Ryan Giggs

 

Ryan Giggs is making no apologies for the controversial penalty decision that allowed Manchester United to claim three precious points in the Barclays Premier League title battle.

Despite dominating last night's encounter with Fulham, United failed to make their pressure tell and ended up enduring a nervous final few minutes as the visitors poured forward.

They also required a massive slice of luck as referee Michael Oliver failed to spot Michael Carrick bundling Danny Murphy over in the box a minute from time.

Fulham manager Martin Jol grumbled at Oliver's failure to make a "brave decision".

However, in recalling a very dubious penalty decision that went against his team earlier this season, Giggs felt it was just a case of such decisions evening themselves up.

"I was right behind the referee and I didn't think it was a penalty [at the time]," the veteran Welshman said. "Looking back on the replay, maybe it could have been.

"But it happens. We conceded a penalty against Newcastle (in November) that wasn't. They tend to even themselves out during a season. Perhaps that is what has happened here."

Despite the unconvincing nature of the win, United have now secured 28 points from the last 30 available and lead championship rivals Manchester City by three points with eight games remaining.

And Giggs was certainly not grumbling after Wayne Rooney secured victory with his 28th goal of the season just before half-time.

"I would take 1-0s to the end of the season," Giggs said. "If we had scored in the last minute everyone would have been euphoric and buzzing.

"The way the game ended, with some sloppy passes and not keeping the ball, everyone is a little bit disappointed and rightly so because we know what we are capable of.

"But overall, we are pleased to get the three points."

After applying some mental pressure to City on Friday by highlighting manager Roberto Mancini's "desperate" call to select Carlos Tevez, it cannot have escaped Sir Alex Ferguson that if United win their next two games it will send the Blues into their tough away encounter with Arsenal on April 8 at least six points in arrears.

The additional incentive is that the game at the Emirates marks the start of an arduous week for City, who face three games in seven days, ending with a Saturday lunchtime trip to Norwich.

However, getting those victories is not going to be straightforward for United, with next Monday's encounter with Blackburn particularly troublesome.

United have secured just two wins from their last 11 Premier League trips to Ewood Park and were forced to come from behind last season before grabbing a draw that secured their record 19th title.

Steve Kean's improving side have already beaten United 3-2 at Old Trafford this season, although that was on a day when Ferguson's team, already ravaged by injury, were further depleted when Rooney and Darron Gibson were omitted for disciplinary reasons.

Nevertheless, they could hardly be in better form right now.

"It is a good achievement," Giggs said of the recent run of results. "The form has been really good. That is another reason why we were so frustrated with the Fulham game.

"It has taken a massive effort. We knew that City were there to be caught but we had some tough games. We got through them and now we can see the finishing line, hopefully we can finish the job off."

United's experience will ensure they are not beaten through mental pressure.

Giggs has emerged triumphant on 12 such run-ins and, even at the age of 38, he is relishing the prospect of another.

"As a footballer you want to enjoy these times. You want to be involved in title chases," he said. "I am sure there will be more twists and turns to come."

PA

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