Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

United Turn Up Heat; Rare Neville Goal Helps Close Gap with Chelsea

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

United Turn Up Heat; Rare Neville Goal Helps Close Gap with Chelsea

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL THOMSON

Man Utd 1 Leicester 0

GARY NEVILLE says Manchester United are determined to pip Chelsea for runners-up spot in the Premiership and seal the second automatic Champions League qualification place. England defender Neville scored the only goal in last night's Old Trafford victory over Leicester to put United three points behind Claudio Ranieri's side with a game in hand.

The two clubs meet in a potentially decisive match on 8 May and Neville said: "That was an important win for us, because we need to get as close as we can to Arsenal to get that second place ahead of Chelsea.

"We don't want to be in a position where we have to qualify for the Champions League. We also want to get as close as we can to Arsenal - we don't want them to win by too many points.

"It was not a great performance, but I'm delighted we won. I owed the team because in the first-half I played as though I had my boots on the wrong feet," said Neville, skipper in the absence of Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs.

Keane, still recovering from the "bumps and bruises" he picked up in the FA Cup semi-final win over Arsenal, ended his two-year self-imposed international exile yesterday and manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed he had given the concept his backing.

The 32-year-old has not played for Ireland since storming out of their pre-World Cup training camp following a bust-up with then manager Mick McCarthy.

Ferguson had previously been vehemently opposed to Keane resuming his Republic of Ireland career but following last night's game he said: "There has been dialogue between Roy and Brian Kerr for a little while which I was party to.

"Roy then spoke to me and I am happy with his decision. It may be the thing that will drive him on for the next two years. I think he will only play the five competitive games each season and Ireland will obviously get the benefit of that. …

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