Alex Ferguson hailed Manchester United’s temperament after they ensured the Barclays Premier League title race will go down to the wire with a 3-1 victory over Tottenham.
The champions defied the absence of Wayne Rooney, who is out with a groin injury, to crank up the pressure on rivals Chelsea with a brace of penalties from Ryan Giggs and a super strike by Nani.
“We played well, that was important, but most important of all was that we kept our nerve,” said Ferguson.
“We showed no signs of nerves, which is great at this time of season – that’s a great quality to have.”
Spurs had beaten Arsenal and Chelsea in their previous two matches and boss Harry Redknapp admits the race for the fourth Champions League place is now precariously balanced.
“It’s all to play for still. It’s going be tight, it will go down to the last game I suppose,” said Redknapp.
“We’ve just got to keep going. We have Bolton at home next week which won’t be easy.
“Then we play Manchester City and Burnley and we need to pick up points from those games.”
City failed to capitalise on Spurs’ slip-up at Old Trafford when they were held to a goalless draw by Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.
And they must cope without Shay Given for their remaining three games after the Irishman sustained a dislocated shoulder, with Faroe Islands goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen set to deputise.
“For us, he (Given) is an important player,” said City manager Roberto Mancini.
“Nielsen is calm and quiet, but he was relaxed on the pitch and played well.”
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola hailed “a great goal and a great result” after Scott Parker’s 25-yard thunderbolt sealed a vital 3-2 victory over Wigan.
Parker’s strike settled a roller-coaster clash at Upton Park and allowed the Hammers to take a giant stride towards safety.
“It was a great finish and not an easy shot because he did not have an angle, but he hit it perfectly,” said Zola.
“I can’t celebrate yet. We want to stay focused and want to finish this championship with some more points.”
Hull manager Iain Dowie was coy about his future after the 1-0 defeat by Sunderland effectively relegated the Tigers.
Darren Bent’s seventh-minute goal coupled with West Ham’s victory over Wigan left Hull six points adrift of safety with two games left and with a vastly inferior goal difference.
“I’m bitterly disappointed. It’s a dark dressing room in there. It’s very disappointing for a great region,” said Dowie.
“You’re not going to right a thousand wrongs in a short period of time.
“I came here knowing exactly what was going on and in the end we weren’t quite good enough to stay up.”
Portsmouth manager Avram Grant has pleaded with the authorities to allow his FA Cup finalists to play in the Europa League next season.
Following the 2-2 draw against Bolton, Grant said: “We are suffering because of the mistakes of others.
“We have been punished with nine points deducted and now regarding Europe. I cannot accept this. It’s not fair play.”
Bolton looked set for the victory that would have definitely secured their top flight status when Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies scored before half-time.
Instead they had to settle for a point with on-loan striker Aruna Dindane scoring a brace for Portsmouth, who have already been banished to the second tier.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake scored his first Premier League goal in open play to salvage a point for Wolves in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn.
“It was nice for him to score. He has been upset through not scoring goals and not playing as much as he would have wanted,” said Wolves boss Mick McCarthy.