Man Utd's 'championship performance' delights Ferguson

Ferguson on 'phenomenal' Man United

Sir Alex Ferguson praised his Manchester United side for producing a "championship performance" as they came from behind on three occasions to beat Newcastle 4-3 at Old Trafford.

The victory extended their Premier League lead over Manchester City, who lost to Sunderland, to seven points.

"Never mind where we are in the table - that was a championship performance," said a delighted Ferguson.

"We dropped two points at Swansea [on Sunday] but made up for it today."

The Scot added: "I think it's given us all a lift - some of the football we played was fantastic."

Newcastle took the lead early in the first half when James Perch capitalised on David De Gea's failure to hold Demba Ba's shot.

Jonny Evans equalised before the Northern Ireland defender put the ball into his own net.

The goal was initially disallowed after it appeared that assistant referee Jake Collin had judged Magpies striker Papiss Cisse - who was standing behind Evans - to have got the final touch from an offside position.

But after consulting with the linesman, referee Mike Dean allowed the goal to stand, noting that Evans had got the final touch and that Cisse was "non-active".

Ferguson was visibly upset by the decision and remonstrated with Dean, the fourth official and then Collin shortly before the restart.

"The referee changed the linesman's mind," said the Scot. "He said it was an own goal. But if you see it again, and the referee can't, the guy is in an offside position, then he pulls Evans's arm.

Pardew laments 'unlucky' Newcastle

"If that is not interfering, what is? I think it was a bad decision."

The Football Association has confirmed no action will be taken against Ferguson after the referee did not mention the incident in his match report.

But Newcastle manager Alan Pardew admitted on Thursday he was surprised not to see his opposite number reprimanded at the time.

He said: "I think Mike Dean might feel slightly disappointed he didn't do something about it. The pressure that was on him was tough to take for a referee.

"It's an emotional game. Apparently they had a cordial discussion. I have had a few of them myself, but sometimes I have ended up in the stand with that cordial discussion.

"But anyway, it's gone now, it's irrelevant to me."

Patrice Evra's leveller calmed Ferguson's fury before Papiss Cisse restored Newcastle's lead.

United's top scorer this season, Robin van Persie, grabbed his 16th of the campaign when he followed up his own blocked shot.

And in the final minute of normal time, Javier Hernandez, in the side for the injured Wayne Rooney, took advantage of a lapse in concentration to slide home the winner.

"I wish it was the last game of the season," said Ferguson. "It tells you about the courage of our team though.

"We had a lot of bad decisions against us in the first half.

"That could have demoralised the team. But they didn't give in. That is the great quality they have.

"As I always say about December, it is a month that tells you everything. Hopefully when we come to 1 January, after that game at Wigan, we are still top of the league."

The result left Newcastle side five points above the drop-zone, with a trip to Arsenal next on their fixture list.

"It's difficult, because we've scored three goals here at Old Trafford," added the Magpies boss.

"You think when you score three, you're going to win the game. We hit the bar [Sylvain Marveaux] and the post [Sammy Ameobi] and we scored three goals. But we conceded four.

"We gifted them the last goal and that's been the story for us this season. The last couple of goals were poor for us."

Pardew was also critical of the challenge in stoppage time by Antonio Valencia on his Dutch midfielder Vurnon Anita, who was taken off on a stretcher as a result.

"I was a bit upset with that tackle," he added. "I have seen it again and I don't think it was malicious but Valencia has mistimed it badly and unfortunately it might cost us a player.

"I am not sure what is wrong. It is too early to say."