MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson saluted "fantastic" Michael Owen after the striker’s hat-trick helped the Reds triumph 3-1 at Wolfsburg to finish top of Champions League Group B.
Owen’s first treble for the club helped United overcome the absence of 14 players to record a memorable win over the German champions.
Asked about the former Liverpool forward’s contribution, Ferguson said on Sky Sports 2: “Fantastic. You know what he is. In the penalty box, he’s on the shoulder, making runs across defenders... the timing of the runs is fantastic and I’m really pleased for him.”
The victory was a record 15th away game unbeaten in the Champions League and only United’s third in 10 attempts on German soil.
Ferguson was also satisfied with how the rest of his makeshift team performed.
“There’s players with quality there. You’ve got to trust them. They’re doing their jobs and proving it tonight again.
“They’ve applied themselves and that’s important.”
Ferguson admitted his side had been fortunate not to concede a first-half penalty, however.
“It looks as if it was a penalty,” said the Scot. “Maybe we were a bit lucky there but sometimes you need a bit of luck in any game.
“Our control in the first half was very good but their threat towards the end with their speed on the counter-attack was very good.”
Owen refused to take all the credit for the victory, saying the team as a whole had to dig deep to contend with so many absentees.
“Me getting three goals will probably grab the headlines, but it was a great team performance,” Owen added.
“I was playing deep with us having so many players out and we were trying to protect the back four.”
Owen, who turns 30 next Monday, hopes United will now be handed a favourable tie in the last 16 after progressing as group winners.
“It’s great being top so we play at home second,” he said. “But I’m not going to lie, you want as weak a side as possible
“(But) if a team’s got to first or second in the Champions League, there’s no weak sides, although you obviously want to avoid the big boys.”
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