Sir Alex Ferguson led the tributes to Wayne Rooney after Manchester United’s 4-3 aggregate success over Manchester City in the Carling Cup. describing the striker’s performance as “world class”.
Rooney headed home in second-half stoppage-time to set up an encounter with Aston Villa at Wembley on 28th February.
United had earlier led on aggregate following second-half strikes from Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher, only for Carlos Tevez to level the tie on aggregate before Rooney sealed a dramatic win.
“I thought Rooney was much better today than he was on Saturday (against Hull City), and yet he scored four goals on Saturday,” Ferguson said.
“His control, leading of the line and penetration was absolutely fantastic. It was a true world-class performance.”
Of the victory over City, the Scot continued: “It’s a derby game, and you like to win your derby games.
“The atmosphere tonight, and the fact it was a semi-final tie, added a lot of spice to the match.
“And the fact we scored so late in the game brought a special type of celebration.”
Ferguson was pleased with the persistence of his side, adding: “I think we kept our patience, I think this was important.
“Nothing really happened in the first half. They sat very deep.
“What we said at half-time was to keep playing our football and keep spreading our play.
“I am proud of the team. I also must pay tribute to our support. They were unbelievable.”
Disappointed City boss Roberto Mancini conceded the game was lost in the short second-half spell when United scored two goals through Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick.
“We played very well in the first half, in the second half there were 10 minutes when we were under pressure – when United scored two goals,” said Mancini.
“The rest of the game we played at the same level as United.
“I am sorry for my players and supporters because we have not made the final but this is football and sometimes when you make mistakes, you lose.”