Champions League - Ferguson hails 'finest' Neuer

Tue, 26 Apr 23:01:00 2011

Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was praised by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson despite conceding two goals in two minutes during the German side's 2-0 Champions League semi-final second leg defeat.

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Neuer announced last week he will leave the club he joined as a boy at the end of the season with Bayern expressing firm interest and reports linking United with the in-form Germany keeper with Edwin van der Sar retiring in May.

Asked if he would make a bid for Neuer or whether a Bayern move had already been sealed, Ferguson told Sky Sports: "I think we know that (he will join Bayern) - we know that for sure."

And he later said: "I think in my time at United this was the finest display of goalkeeping against us. I'm sure there were other feats - but tonight we saw a very good one."

Bayern have already asked for a meeting to discuss signing Neuer, who local media say would cost 20 million euros (£17.8m), and although that was turned down the Bavarians still hope the keeper will join them at the end of the season.

Neuer made a string of fine saves in the first half to keep dominant United at bay in Gelsenkirchen but was finally beaten in the 67th minute when Ryan Giggs put the ball through his legs and two minutes later he was beaten by Wayne Rooney's strike.

Although Ferguson was astounded by Neuer's overall showing he looks poised to go shopping elsewhere for a new goalkeeper with the likes of Atletico Madrid's David De Gea in the frame.

"When (Javier) Hernandez scored and he was offside I think that told the players they could beat this keeper," Ferguson joked of the Mexican's disallowed effort at 0-0 when United, now almost sure of a place in the final, were rampant.

"Our concentration, intensity and speed of passing was excellent.

"We had less chances in the second half but were more dangerous, when Chicharito scored and it was offside it told the players they could beat the goalkeeper.

"The continuity of selection in these games gives us good experience and work-rate and I have good options with the likes of Nani, Scholes and Anderson. We have selection problems now but that is what we want."

The United boss also admitted he is still amazed by the performances of evergreen star Giggs after the Welshman played a key role in the win.

Giggs was responsible for some of the glaring opportunities United spurned against Schalke on Tuesday night but bagged the opener in a 2-0 victory that leaves Ferguson's men in pole position to face either Real Madrid or Barcelona at Wembley on May 28.

"It is strange because Ryan's peak years seem to have lasted so long," said Ferguson. "You would think, at 37, he would be showing signs of waning. I don't see any evidence of that.

"We look after him in terms of rest before games but when he gets that freshness he doesn't show any sign of fatiguing at all. He is an amazing man."

PA Sport / Reuters

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