World beater - Fergie delight as Ronaldo strikes twice to put United clear in title race

By IAN LADYMAN

Last updated at 11:06 20 March 2008


Sir Alex Ferguson last night hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as a peerless world talent after the Portuguese winger sent Manchester United three points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

Ronaldo was made captain for the first time in his

United career last night and scored two early goals

as they beat Bolton 2-0 at Old Trafford to go three

points clear of Arsenal and five ahead of Chelsea.

Ronaldo

Star man: United's Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) was a shoo-in for the award

Ronaldo took his extraordinary scoring tally to 33

goals in 35 starts in the current campaign, eclipsing George Best's 40-year-old record

of 32 goals from a winger in a

single season.

United manager Ferguson said: 'It's

fantastic. It speaks volumes for his

ability and his scoring ability. There

won't be a winger in the world

who can do that.

'We didn't make a big deal of the

captaincy but Cristiano has been

looking for that kind of

responsibility for a while. He

carries the mantle very well.'

Ferguson made seven changes

from the team that won 1-0 at

Derby at the weekend and has

some selection issues ahead of

Sunday's home game against

Liverpool as Rio Ferdinand is

struggling with a back problem

and Nemanja Vidic went off last

night with what may be a broken

nose.

Nevertheless, Chelsea's draw at

Tottenham, combined with

Arsenal's faltering form, has left

United odds-on to defend the title

they won last season.

With Chelsea facing Arsenal at

Stamford Bridge on Sunday and yet

to host United, Avram Grant's side

could yet have a vital influence.

Ferguson added: 'It will go to the

wire, that's for sure. Chelsea will

be key to it. They have to play us

both at home and their home

record is very good.

'The important thing is that we

have a lead now. It is not a

significant lead but it is a lead. With

eight games to go the most

consistent team will win the

league and we are in a good

position.

'It was not the best performance

but we needed to make changes.

Rio is doubtful for Sunday so we

had to have a look at Gerard Pique

and had to give Wes Brown a rest

just in case Rio doesn't make it for

the weekend. But they are all top

players and we have to trust in

them.'

Ferguson once summed up a tight

title race by describing a race

between United and Arsenal as

'squeaky bum time'.

Last night he joked: 'Yes, it's

squeaky bum time again. We will

just go to bed and pray that we can

do it again.'

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