MANCHESTER: Ruud van Nistelrooy closed in on Denis Law's European scoring record for Manchester United with a display of goal-poaching against Rangers on Tuesday that came straight out of the Scot's own handbook.
That was the view of United manager Alex Ferguson after Dutchman Van Nistelrooy scored twice from close range in United's 3-0 Champions League win at Old Trafford to take his tally for the club to 27, one less than Law's tally.
Van Nistelrooy's first came from a lucky rebound off his knee but Ferguson told reporters: I expect strikers to score off the rebounds, there was one here that almost lived off them for 10 years, Denis Law.
There's nothing wrong with scoring a scabby goal, you know. You're delighted. I scored a few myself! added the United boss, a former Rangers forward in his playing days.
Van Nistelrooy's double ended a four-game personal goal drought, although it remains to be seen if it impressed watching Dutch coach Dick Advocaat, who has dropped Van Nistelrooy for the Euro 2004 playoff against Scotland after a public row.
Strikers live on confidence, Ruud is no different, added Ferguson. You saw the change in his game in the second half.
United's win was founded just as much on the superb form of Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan, who scored the night's opening goal with a searing sixth-minute volley and set up Van Nistelrooy's first.
Diego is thriving on games. That's his fourth in a row, Ferguson said. It was an instinctive hit of the ball. If you score every week, you're giving the manager a problem, how do you leave him out? He will play at Liverpool on Sunday.
While United look certain to qualify for the second phase, Rangers' hopes are hanging by a thread.
With two Group E games to go they have only four points, five less than both VfB Stuttgart, their next destination, and the English champions.
We were well beaten by a really, really top side, said manager Alex McLeish, whose team also lost 1-0 in Glasgow to United two weeks ago.
We failed to take our chances at Ibrox and United took theirs tonight. The start was extremely difficult for us. We were far too bold. Reuters