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Off day for young guns cost United, says Ferguson

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, Apr 15 (Reuters) An off day for Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo stalled Manchester United's bid to catch Chelsea in the Premier League title race, said manager Alex Ferguson.

United, who had won their previous nine league games to edge close to leaders Chelsea, were held to a goalless draw at home by relegated Sunderland last night.

''Tonight when we expected the most, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo had perhaps their worst game of the season,'' Ferguson told reporters.

United's single point left them six adrift of the champions, who visit Bolton Wanderers today looking to increase their lead to nine.

Chelsea needed to pick up seven points from their five remaining games to secure the title.

''Composure was the key and we lacked that in the final third tonight,'' Ferguson said, referring to England striker Rooney and Portugal's Ronaldo.

''But they're still great players. You expect inconsistency from young players like them. They will be great and I stake my life on that,'' he was quoted as saying in British newspapers.

The young pair were in a United attack that missed a host of chances although they also came up against a fine performance by Sunderland goalkeeper Kelvin Davis.

''We need a miracle now of course and it has given a great boost to Chelsea,'' said Ferguson, who had believed in United's chances of preventing Jose Mourinho's team from retaining their title.

''But we can't give up because we have come too far to give up.

We're still a very good team...We have to go to Stamford Bridge and win. We can't give up.'' United visit Chelsea on April 29 in the second of their four remaining games.

REUTERS PM KN1523

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