Chilean miners inspire United to dig deep

MANCHESTER - Watching football while trapped underground gave the Chilean miners hope during their 69-day ordeal this year and their experience helped inspire Manchester United to beat Arsenal on Monday.

Some of the 33 miners rescued in October were at Old Trafford to watch Sir Alex Ferguson's team go top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win over one of their main title rivals.

"You played a part in that great win over Arsenal last night because Alex referred to your story in his team talk before the game and used the motivation from that to galvanise the players," club chief executive David Gill told them on Tuesday.

Wearing United scarves and clutching bulging bags of souvenirs from the club shop, the miners were attending a champagne and canapes reception for them at Old Trafford.

Some brushed away tears as a video of their rescue was shown, while others cheered and laughed as they saw themselves sharing passionate kisses with their loved ones.

Many of the men are huge football fans and watched matches on a live feed using a small projector while waiting to be rescued in the depths of the mine.

"Sport is so important in my life that it was one of the reasons that have me hope to live," miner Pedro Cortez told reporters. "I am very proud to know that Sir Alex used our story to motivate his players."