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October 27, 2009

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Ferguson blasts ref but praises Liverpool

MANCHESTER United manager Alex Ferguson said he was disappointed by his team's performance in Sunday's 0-2 loss at Liverpool, but also criticized the performance of the referee.

Goals from Fernando Torres and David Ngog consigned the English champion to its first defeat in 12 matches in all competitions and its first since the second game of the season at Burnley.

"It was a disappointing performance and Liverpool were better," Ferguson told United's TV channel because he refuses to attend post-match media conferences. "We never got any luck in terms of refereeing decisions, but we have to hold our hands up - we weren't good enough.

"I'm not trying to take anything away from Liverpool - they were the better team - but there were so many controversial things that happened out there and we feel a bit aggrieved."

The Scot complained about referee Andre Marriner, claiming he was influenced by the Anfield crowd as Rafa Benitez's side halted a four-match losing streak.

"There was a wounded animal aspect to the game," said Ferguson, who was charged by the Football Association earlier this week after criticizing a referee's fitness. "I think it affected our players and it affected the referee. It is very difficult atmosphere here."

Nemanja Vidic was sent off for the third consecutive match against Liverpool. "The Vidic booking was the worst decision," said Ferguson, who was also aggrieved that Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was not sent off for a foul on former teammate Michael Owen when Liverpool was leading 1-0.

"The referee was only four or five yards from it he cannot use a covering defender as an excuse," Ferguson said. "Michael was clean through. With Michael's pace he is going to get away from him."

Ferguson also said that United midfielder Michael Carrick should have been awarded a penalty when he was fouled.

Unlike his manager, defender Patrice Evra was making no excuses for the loss.

"Liverpool were aggressive but we didn't play and that's why it's so frustrating to lose," Evra said. "The display was poor today. Normally when United play we create at least five or six clear chances but we only had the one when (Antonio) Valencia hit the crossbar.

"It's not enough if you want to win against Liverpool."

And it hasn't been for three straight matches now between the two sides, with United condemned to a hat-trick of losses.

The victory revived Liverpool's hopes of a title challenge, taking it to fifth place on 18 points from 10 games. Arsenal moved into third place after letting a two-goal lead slip at West Ham United to draw 2-2.

Manchester City also surrendered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 home draw against Fulham.


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