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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ronaldo careful to avoid Fergie "hair-dryer" in Japan

Cristiano Ronaldo studiously avoided talk of Real Madrid after Manchester United booked their place in Sunday's Club World Cup final.

Spanish media reports claiming United had agreed to sell Ronaldo to Real prompted a furious response from Alex Ferguson after his side's 5-3 win over Gamba Osaka on Thursday.

While the United manager insisted he "wouldn't sell a virus" to Real, Ronaldo kept his own counsel, perhaps mindful of Ferguson's famous "hair-dryer" treatment.

"I don't want to talk about Real Madrid," the Portuguese winger told reporters after scoring one of United's five goals in their semi-final win in Yokohama. "I am happy here."

Ronaldo admitted that United would need to play better against Ecuador's LDU in order to become the first British side to win the Club World Cup.

"LDU are a great side and the final will be much more difficult," said the Ballon d'Or winner. "The second game is always harder. It would be amazing to be world champions.

"The lads want the treble (English, European and world champions) and we're delighted to be in the final. But we know we have to play better on Sunday."

LIME GREEN

Ronaldo, wearing lime green boots, gave United a 2-0 lead with a header on the stroke of halftime but was overshadowed by substitute Wayne Rooney's late double strike.

"Wayne did brilliantly tonight," said Ronaldo, who dazzled the crowd of 67,000 with his trademark stepovers. "He was hungry to score and got two fantastic goals."

Ferguson's side won the Club World Cup's forerunner, a one-off match between the champions of Europe and South America, with a 1-0 victory over Brazil's Palmeiras in 1999.

United were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Argentine side Estudiantes in 1968 when the Intercontinental Cup was played over two legs.

Ferguson was still fuming after the game about the latest rumours from Madrid, which came after last weekend's 2-0 defeat by arch-rivals Barcelona.

"Real Madrid will blame anybody but themselves for their problems," said the Scot. "I said to (chief executive) David Gill last summer, when we sold Gabriel Heinze, you can bet your life in January it will all start up with Ronaldo again.

"We know their game. We've just got to ignore it. If we keep worrying about what Real are going to say then we're not going to concentrate on our own programme of difficult games coming up."

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