Ferguson hails Rooney response

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson praised Wayne Rooney after the striker recovered from a mistake to sink Hull on Sunday afternoon.

The England striker put United ahead in a compelling Premier League encounter at the KC Stadium but then committed the mistake that led to Craig Fagan’s penalty equaliser.

Rooney turned away in despair as Fagan struck but then lifted himself to force an Andy Dawson own goal and set up Dimitar Berbatov to complete a 3-1 win.

Ferguson told Sky Sports 1: "He’s been a threat all day to them, the penetration behind their back line was very good.

"He made a mistake in giving the ball away for the goal, that was his one bad moment in the game, but I thought he was exceptionally good today.

"He’s got that (desire), it’s in-born in him, he’ll never lose that.

"He’s a natural winner, he’s always had that great attitude and determination to do well and he would be even more sick than anyone when he made a mistake. He rectified it and everything’s fine."

Rooney, who had tapped home in first-half injury time, allowed Hull a route back into the game when his underhit backpass allowed Fagan to nip in. Fagan was unable to finish from a tight angle but he crossed for Jozy Altidore and the American was bundled over for a penalty by Rafael da Silva.

Rooney himself admitted he was relieved to have made amends. He said: "Obviously when they got the equaliser it was a mistake by myself and thankfully we got the win, or I don’t think the manager would have been too pleased with me.

"It wasn’t a nice feeling, I didn’t want to let the lads down and at the time it looked like that, but it happens and we got the win in the end."

Fagan’s goal was one of a number of occasions when Hull, making light of their lowly 19th position in the table, threatened. Seyi Olofinjana and Stephen Hunt had particularly good opportunities in the first half while Richard Garcia felt he was denied another penalty. Ferguson added: "We have to give credit to Hull in a way because they got wired right into us, tackled everywhere – gave a lot of fouls away – but they stopped the momentum of our game.

"When you’re away from home you have to expect that games like that will be tough."

United’s win lifted them back above Arsenal, who won earlier in the day, into second in the table and within two points of leaders Chelsea despite having lost five times this season. Ferguson said: "It’s looking different, that’s for sure, there are some unusual results going round and come the second half it just builds it up to what is looking like it’s going to be a really tight league.

"Experience will come into it, in the run-in teams with experience of being there all the time – and Arsenal, Chelsea and ourselves of course have got that – that will be important.

"I think the team that stays clear of injuries will also have an advantage, and I’m hopeful I’ll have all the defenders back by (the time) the European campaign comes around again, which should freshen us up and give me more options, that will be important to us.

"Other than that, if you make mistakes you’re going to get punished. If you eradicate mistakes, whoever does that will have a great chance."

Hull boss Phil Brown, despite a result that left his side in the relegation zone at the season’s midpoint, was pleased with the Tigers’ display. Brown said: "When we got the equaliser it was not one-way traffic – because it is never one-way traffic with Man United – but we certainly were rattling them and causing them one or two problems.

"We were pushing for a winner, you can’t stop the boys pushing for a winner from a corner, but we switched off on the edge of the box and about 10 seconds later the ball was in the back of the net.

"We were facing an uphill battle at half-time. We climbed it but then gave ourselves a mountain to climb at the end.

"But it was a good performance. The level of performance and commitment we showed at times gives you a lot of heart, especially in the situation we are in. We need that level of performance and commitment at Bolton on Tuesday night."