A reluctant hero, Phil Neville did at least acknowledge that his winning goal for Manchester United last night was "the biggest goal I've ever scored". But then the English champions' less vociferous Neville brother, who also made a vital second-half clearance from the line, reverted to being the team man.
"Tonight was all about the three points, that was the only thing that mattered," he said. "We let ourselves down in Stuttgart [by losing in the last Champions' League outing] and we need to make up for that. And there were more heroes than me out there. Yeah, I got the goal, but our two centre-backs and our goalkeeper were fantastic. And after we scored we did sit back a bit, and especially in the second half, with Rangers attacking, we were aware that we were only 1-0 up and needed to keep it tight. We did that and now we can look forward."
Of the goal itself, which exposed the early defensive weakness of the home side, he said: "Initially I was looking to play Ryan [Giggs] in, but it opened up for me and I had the shot."
Neville's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, said he was "relieved and satisfied" with the result. "It was always going to be a very difficult game because the Rangers tradition is never to give up. One-nil is a very dodgy result," he said. He added that he thought United's goal, after five minutes, had been scored too early. "I just felt that with scoring so early we sat back a bit," he said.
Ferguson said he enjoyed his brief return to Ibrox, which lies close to the Govan street where he was born. "The atmosphere was terrific. The pitch was great. The supporters were fantastic. And Alex [McLeish, the Rangers manager] would've been very proud of his team. They kept possession well."
Asked if he was surprised at Rangers' resilience, especially in light of their poor showing last weekend when drawing with Motherwell, Ferguson intimated that if they could not be inspired by playing United, they couldn't be inspired by anything.
McLeish, who played under Ferguson for Aberdeen and Scotland, echoed his mentor's sentiments, praising his side's work-rate and commitment. "They're disappointed that they didn't take something from Manchester United," he said.Reuse content