Ferguson rues Nani penalty miss

United, missing Wayne Rooney because of a virus, suffered an early
slip in the Premier League title race when Nani missed an
87th-minute penalty that would have secured a 3-1 lead. Nani’s
effort was well saved by David Stockdale and in the final minute
Brede Hangeland, whose own goal had nudged United ahead, nodded
home the equaliser. “When you get the opportunity to seal the game
with that penalty you should be taking it,” Ferguson told MUTV. “It
was a missed opportunity and it galvanised them, got the crowd up
and they scored the equaliser in the end. “When we got that second
goal I thought ‘we’ve escaped here’. “But to miss a penalty kick to
make it 3-1, you’re throwing two points away there I’m afraid. “You
don’t want to be dropping silly points and we dropped silly points
today. We can’t escape that. “There was an opportunity to go 3-1
ahead with three minutes left and we didn’t take it.” Ferguson’s
frustration at failing to join Chelsea at the top of the table was
tempered by the admission Fulham deserved a point from an
enthralling contest. An ominous start from United saw Paul Scholes
fire a powerful 25-yard drive in the 11 minute only for Simon
Davies to equalise in emphatic fashion during a second half
controlled by the Cottagers. “In fairness to Fulham they were the
better team in the second half. I don’t think we deserved to be in
front at 2-1,” said Ferguson. “They caused us a lot of problem,
particularly Bobby Zamora who was very good for them. We can’t
complain in terms of the run of the game.” Ferguson added: “We’ve
seen that before from Paul – he’s done that so many times. “Once
again it was an outstanding performance from him. It’s just
disappointing we didn’t ram home the advantage.” Ferguson
questioned why Nani and not fellow substitute Ryan Giggs stepped up
for the ill-fated penalty. “I thought Ryan should have taken it,”
said the Scot. “In the last game we played against Tottenham at
home Ryan scored two penalty kicks and Nani was on the pitch the
same day. Maybe Ryan should have taken it.” Ferguson confirmed that
Rooney, who has gone 13 games for club and country since his last
competitive goal, was ruled out through illness. “Wayne has a
virus. The problem is he turned up yesterday with it and he had no
chance in 24 hours,” said Ferguson “If it had been a Thursday or
Friday we may have been able to patch him up. “Sometimes these
viruses are 24-hour things and that could have been the case but
there was no attempt to see if he could recover from this.” Fulham
had Stockdale’s reflexes to thank for keeping them in contention
but boss Mark Hughes was wary of lavishing praise on the
24-year-old. Arsenal target Mark Schwarzer, who has handed in a
transfer request, failed to recover from his back injury so
Stockdale continued between the sticks. “Stockdale has done very
well, he’s a good young keeper,” said Hughes. “We’re pleased with
what he’s producing at the moment but it’s always difficult for
young keepers. “They get by initially on enthusiasm, but can they
keep it up over time? We’ve got to be careful with him.”