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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ronny has Double vision

With just three weeks of the season remaining, Cristiano Ronaldo has set his sights on three victories to ensure United end the campaign with a Double helping of silverware.

The Reds booked a Champions League final berth against Chelsea this week, and lead the Blues on goal difference with two games remaining in the Premier League title race.

Attentions now switch back to domestic duty, with West Ham next up at Old Trafford, but Ronaldo won't separate the competitions - he wants to win both.

"We're in this competition (the Champions League) to win it, as much as the league," said the winger. "We took our opportunity and now we're in the final of the Champions League. Nothing could be better.

"We might have been able to play better but we won, we always win and now we have to do the same in the final and in the championship."

Barring a Chelsea goal-flood of ridiculous proportions, wins against West Ham and Wigan would see United retain their title ahead of the Champions League final in Moscow on May 21, and Ronaldo insists the Reds need to keep cool under pressure.

"Manchester always plays to win, the players want to win something this season and we have a great opportunity to win the Premier League and the Champions League," he said.

"Now, we need to relax a little bit and do some good work and try to win."

Park's final delight

Ji-sung Park is delighted to have helped United reach the Champions League final, but warns the Reds must not lose focus on the Premier League title.

The 27-year-old was one of United's un-sung heroes against Barcelona on Tuesday - his tireless work in midfield was a real plus-point on a testing night at Old Trafford.

Reaching the final is a major achievement for Park as he has twice fallen at the same final stage - once with United, once with PSV Eindhoven (ironically, AC Milan thwarted him on both occasions) - although injury would have kept him out last year.

"It’s fantastic," said the Korean international. "It’s difficult to put into words.

"It’s amazing and I’m really looking forward to playing in the final.

"The atmosphere on Tuesday was incredible, I’ve never seen or heard anything like it. The fans gave me extra power."

Considering both United and Barcelona are teams built on an attacking philosophy, chances were surprisingly sparse over the two semi-final ties. It required a different type of performance from the Reds, full of discipline and resilience.

"We got the win because it was eleven players working hard.

We showed good concentration for the whole 90 minutes," added Ji.

But the Korean star isn't carried away with the thought of taking on Chelsea in Moscow's Luzhniki stadium on 21 May.

Instead, the challenge of beting Avram Grant's men to the title in the final two league matches of the season remains uppermost in his mind.

"We have to remember that we have got two important games before the Champions League final.

"The team spirit is very good after this win, so I am confident we will get good results."

Time for a sprint finish

Mikael Silvestre insists United's Champions League triumph over Barcelona will provide the inspiration to close out the Premier League title race.

The Reds slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea last weekend but remain ahead of Avram Grant's side on goal difference. With West Ham due at Old Trafford on Saturday, Silvestre is in confident mood.

"It’s a big bonus to beat Barcelona," he told MUTV. "It makes it much easier to recover in time for Saturday. We are full of confidence. We didn’t lose it at Chelsea, and against West Ham at home and Wigan away we are 100 per cent confident we can win the title."

United will also go toe-to-toe with Chelsea in the Champions League final and, although Tuesday's win over Barcelona was a nail-biting affair, Silvestre feels the Reds are well equipped to win the competition.

"We were on the edge all night," he said. "If Barcelona scored we had to get two goals, so we had to be careful. It was really nerve-racking, and that’s part of the reason why I went to do my warm-up – I couldn’t bear to stay there sat on my seat!

"I think in the end we deserved the win. We have been working hard since last year, where we were so close to reaching the final. I think we’ve improved as a squad. This year, it’s a step forward and it's a great feeling."

Paul nets fresh deal

Paul Scholes will be rewarded for his Champions League heroics with a fresh two-year deal. The contract will be signed in the summer and keep him a Manchester United player until he is 35. Scholes put United into this year’s final with a wonder winner against Barcelona. Boss Alex Ferguson is delighted with the way he and sub Ryan Giggs, 34, have looked after themselves. Fergie said: “I can no longer see an end to their careers. They must be the best two players I’ve ever had.” Scholes’ current £75,000-a-week deal runs out at the end of next season.
Neil Custis, The Sun