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Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has described Raul as the ‘best player in the world, and joked that he will try and prevent Raul from entering England for the return leg in a fortnight’s time.

The Spanish striker scored twice as Real Madrid outclassed Manchester United on the way to a 3-1 win in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

‘Raul is so difficult to play against when he starts taking up the positions he did tonight,’ said Ferguson.

‘He always seems to be an outlet for them and we never contained that part.

‘We know Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo are great players but we could have handled that. Raul was very difficult.

‘My only hope is that he doesn’t like travelling. Failing that, we will stop him coming into the country for the second leg.

‘Real Madrid have bought some great players over the last few years but, at the moment, Raul is the best in the world.’

Real coach Vicente del Bosque was happy with his side’s first-half performance but believed Marid should have put the game out of United’s reach.

‘We played brilliantly in the first-half but we should have settled the game on the counter-attack,’ he said.

‘I would agree with Sir Alex, Raul was the most important player in the game.’

Midfielder Steve McManaman admitted that the Real Madrid players were disappointed not to recorded a more emphatic victory.

‘We shouldn’t have conceded a goal, it was very quiet in the dressing room after the game,’ said the former England midfielder, who was among the unused substitutes.

‘United started defensively and looked to hit us on the counter-attack.

‘In the past United have never given us so much possession.

‘I felt they backed off and gave us the ball.’

‘I don’t know if we were a bit naive at 3-0 up.

‘If it had finished like that the tie would have been over, but at 3-1 it is still alive.

‘However, we’ll always fancy our chances of scoring.’

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