Manchester Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to Ruud van Nistelrooy after the Dutch striker scored all four goals in the 4-1 win over Sparta Prague.

With 35 goals in 36 Champions League matches since joining United, Van Nistelrooy is now in sight of Raul’s competition record of 48 goals.

“Ruud is just unbelievable. He is definitely the most clinical finisher we have seen here,” said Ferguson.

“The Champions League is a true test of all footballers in Europe.

“Over the last 40 years the great players, the likes of Di Stefano, Puskas, Cruyff and Muller, have used this competition as the big platform.”

“He is cool with his finishing, he doesn’t panic and he is so quick with his feet too.

The United boss believed Van Nistelrooy’s third goal – shortly after Sparta had made it 2-1 – was crucial.

“They showed an attacking enterprise that surprised us,” Ferguson added.

“That led to a game that was so open it could have been four each after 20 minutes.

“But we got the goals that mattered, especially the third – they had pulled one back and had a bit of momentum behind them.”

Ferguson added that he was not concerned by his team’s lack of goals from midfield.

“We have always done well with midfield players scoring over the years.

“It is not happening at the moment but it will.”

Van Nistelrooy praised the efforts of his teammates.
“It’s great, a good feeling to have won the game,” said Van Nistelrooy.

“We played very well and the lads were looking for my movement a lot.”