Ferguson: Ferdinand and Vidic key to title tilt

The return of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the heart of Manchester United's defence is the key to their challenge for a fourth successive Premier League title, manager Sir Alex Ferguson said on Sunday.

Ferguson praised the pair after United shook off an early Fernando Torres goal to beat Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford and return to the top of the table.

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Ferguson told Sky Sports he was hugely impressed with the duo when United survived a fierce onslaught to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 two weeks ago and they confirmed his opinion on Sunday.

"Wolves put it in our face, every ball was pumped forward and they challenged for everything, it was a real battle," Ferguson said.

"But what I thought then was that Vidic and Ferdinand coming back from a long time off, they rose to that challenge.

"They were fantastic, they were saying 'this is my type of game' and after that I said to myself 'keep those two fit and we've a marvellous chance against anyone'. Vidic today, in particular, was absolutely magnificent.

"So we have a very experienced back four and a very experienced goalkeeper and it gives us an outstanding chance, albeit there are seven difficult matches left."

Ferdinand missed three months of the season with a serious back injury and Vidic was ruled out for two months with a nerve problem in his leg.

However, the two have played together in United's last four matches with Torres's strike the only goal they have conceded.

Vidic also managed to avoid being sent off for the first time in four games against Liverpool but Ferguson thought Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano should have been dismissed for bringing down Antonio Valencia.

A penalty was awarded from which Wayne Rooney equalised but Ferguson was not happy.

"I thought it was a red card," Ferguson said.

"I don't see how anyone could have stopped Valencia from shooting and that's a goal scoring opportunity as far as I am concerned."

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