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United defending is agony for Ferguson

Last updated on: December 2, 2012 10:50 IST

United defending is agony for Ferguson

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Alex Ferguson described watching his Manchester United side's defending in the topsy-turvy 4-3 victory over Reading on Saturday as agony.

United conceded three times in the opening 23 minutes of a rollercoaster first half at the Madejski Stadium but scored four times themselves before the interval to go three points clear at the top of the Premier League.

"It was agony, the worst defending of this season, and we needed to do something about it," Ferguson, who hauled off defender Rafael in a first half that often resembled a playground kickaround, told ESPN.

"I thought it was going to be a record score in the Premier League at halftime. It was unbelievable.

"We're needing to rescue the situation all the time. Fortunately we have players who can do that.

"We saw it through and had two really good opportunities from Robin (van Persie) to finish it off but I was just glad to get over the line. If we defend like that against Manchester City, I might need to play myself."


Image: Manchester United's Rafael (L) speaks to to team mate Rio Ferdinand during their English Premier League soccer match against Reading at the Madejski Stadium in Reading
Photographs: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

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Rooney scores a brace

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United have conceded the first goal numerous times this season and have had their defence breached 21 times as they struggle to cope with the absence of the injured Nemanja Vidic.

That is 10 more than champions City, whom they face at the Etihad Stadium next weekend.

In attack, however, they remain lethal.

Wayne Rooney scored twice, once from the penalty spot, on Saturday, while Van Persie's 10th league goal of the season, a typically cool piece of finishing, proved to be the winner as the second half petered out.

"We could have been battered today, but thankfully we are always scoring goals and that is rescuing us every time," Ferguson said.

"Wayne was fantastic in the first half, as were Robin and Ashley Young. Reading couldn't control them.

"We should have finished the game off with some of the opportunities we had. In the first half, I said to myself that it would be a miracle if we win this one.

"I'm just glad that we did," he added.


Image: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney shoots to score against Reading during their English Premier League soccer match at the Madejski Stadium in Reading
Photographs: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

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Robson-Kanu opened the scoring for Reading

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Reading led 1-0 through Hal Robson-Kanu before Anderson combined superbly with Young to equalise, and Rooney fired United ahead from the penalty spot.

Adam Le Fondre was given a free header to level for Reading before another set piece saw Sean Morrison make it 3-2 for the hosts. Rooney then turned in Patrice Evra's low cross before Van Persie's contribution to the scoring bonanza.

Sanity broke out in the second half as the goals dried up and United held on for the win that lifted them above champions City, who had gone top with a 1-1 draw with Everton.

In what looks like a two-horse title race United have 36 points from 15 games with City on 33.

The chasing pack of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion each have 26.

"I think it was important to win, knowing the results from earlier," Ferguson said.

"But you have still got to win your game and today was a real cliff-hanger for us, but fortunately we got the three points."


Image: Reading's Sean Morrison (C) scores against Manchester United during their English Premier League soccer match at the Madejski Stadium
Photographs: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

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Hammers stun Chelsea

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Chelsea surrendered a halftime lead to lose 3-1 at West Ham United to leave interim manager Rafael Benitez still without a win.

Arsene Wenger was also the target of jeers as his Arsenal side were humbled 2-0 at home by Swansea City.

Champions Manchester City moved top of the Premier League table, for a couple of hours at least, after Carlos Tevez earned them a 1-1 draw at home to Everton, although Manchester United will open a three-point lead if they win at Reading later.


Image: Petr Cech of Chelsea saves from the headed of Winston Reid of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Chelsea at the Boleyn Ground
Photographs: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

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Mata gave Chelsea the lead

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Juan Mata gave Chelsea a well-deserved lead but West Ham roared back to pile pressure on Benitez with former Chelsea striker Carlton Cole levelling just past the hour before substitutes Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga struck late on.

Benitez, whose appointment in the wake of Roberto Di Matteo's sacking has proved unpopular among fans, is the first Chelsea manager not to win any of his first three matches in charge since Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought the club.

"In the second half we didn't start well, they got on top of us and we couldn't manage," former Liverpool manager Benitez, whose first two matches in charge ended in 0-0 draws against Manchester City and Fulham, told Sky Sports.

The European champions, now without a win in seven league matches having topped the table, remain in third spot on goal difference from Tottenham Hotspur, who joined them on 26 points with a 3-0 victory at Fulham -- Jermain Defoe scoring twice.

West Bromwich Albion slipped to fifth, also on 26 points, after a 1-0 defeat at home by Stoke City.


Image: Juan Mata of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team's first goal against West Ham United during their English Premier League soccer match at Upton Park
Photographs: Andrew Winning/Reuters

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Swansea stun Arsenal

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Arsenal were booed off at the Emirates as they slipped to 10th following Michu's late double for Michael Laudrup's impressive Swansea, which took the 2 million pound summer signing's tally for the season to 11.

"Of course you can understand the fans when we lose a match the way we did today," Wenger told Sky Sports.

"We were maybe lacking a bit of maturity to keep it 0-0. It's a big blow because the games are coming very quickly. Today was not the way we want to play football."

Liverpool were 1-0 winners at home to Southampton and bottom club Queens Park Rangers drew 1-1 at home to Aston Villa as their search for a first league win of the season continues under new manager Harry Redknapp.


Image: Olivier Giroud of Arsenal looks dejected as Swansea celebrate during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium
Photographs: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

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Benitez booed during the match

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Banners protesting about Benitez's appointment were still in evidence at Upton Park, yet for 45 minutes Chelsea were in control and heading for victory.

When Fernando Torres cut the ball back from the byline for Mata to shoot Chelsea in front after 13 minutes, it seemed that Benitez could silence his critics, at least for a day.

Mata could have increased Chelsea's lead but Jussi Jaaskelainen made a great save to keep West Ham within touching distance.

West Ham's Kevin Nolan had a goal disallowed just before halftime and Chelsea keeper Petr Cech made a fingertip save to keep out Nolan's header from a corner.

The home side were far more adventurous after the break and deservedly drew level when Cole nodded past Cech from close range after appearing to climb over Branislav Ivanovic.

Mata nearly restored Chelsea's lead with a superb free kick that thudded against the woodwork and Chelsea looked the more likely winners as the game entered its closing stages.


Image: Chelsea fans raise a banner during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Chelsea at the Boleyn Ground
Photographs: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

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