Post-match reaction to Manchester United's 4-3 victory over Reading.
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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson bemoaned his side's defending as they came out on top in a 4-3 thriller against Reading to go three points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
An early strike from Reading winger Hal Robson-Kanu saw United fall behind for the 10th time in the league this season before Anderson equalised and Wayne Rooney put the visitors in front from the penalty spot.
Poor defending from set-pieces then cost United dear as both Adam Le Fondre and Sean Morrison capitalised on poor positional play from the Red Devils' defenders to head Reading into a 3-2 lead.
The goals kept coming in the first half as another Rooney strike and a coolly taken goal from Robin van Persie meant all seven goals in the game were scored in a 34-minute period.
After the game Ferguson was in no doubt as to the defensive display from his side that could have cost them a vital victory in the title race.
"I don't know what to make of it, the first half the defending was the worst this season, absolutely no doubt about that," he said.
"Nobody competed for the crosses, in fairness Reading have a great delivery of the ball - the boy (Nicky) Shorey whips them in, fantastic crosses but we should be doing better than that. It was terrible."
United have now won seven league games from losing positions and Ferguson was pleased with his attacking players during the opening 45 minutes.
He said: "We have the players that can rescue us and today again Waz (Wayne Rooney) in the first half was fantastic, he and Robin (van Persie) and Ashley Young were a real threat to them, they couldn't control them.
"They were terrific in the first half, Ashley was right back to form and gave them a real hard time of it - Wayne made a great pass for Robin's goal, terrific pass.
"There are a lot of plus points in the sense that they never gave in and kept going and in the second half showed a great determination to get over the line and that is what it was about today, getting over the line."
Van Persie's strike proved to be the match-winner but he missed out on adding a second before half-time after it was adjudged his effort was cleared by Adrian Mariappa before it crossed the line, although replays suggested otherwise.
He then missed two great chances in the second half and Ferguson was glad he was not left to rue the misfiring Dutchman's attempts but is all-too-aware the Manchester derby next Sunday will test his fragile defence to the limit.
"In the second half we had two great opportunities for Robin to finish the game off and you are left on the knife-edge because they put the ball into the box and make it difficult for you," he said.
"It is a massive game, if we defend like that we will be in trouble, there is no doubt about that.
"I think the important thing for us is to take lessons from the mistakes we are making and find a solution, because we are going to need it."
Brazilian duo Rafael and Anderson were substituted in the first half and although Ferguson explained Rafael's departure was tactical he confirmed goalscorer Anderson faces a spell on the sidelines.
"Rafael had been booked, I don't think there was any danger in him being sent off because it was an innocuous challenge but we really needed to get height into the team," he said.
"(Anderson's) is a hamstring unfortunately and he will be out for a few weeks, he had been playing well the lad, scored a great goal and it is disappointing."
Reading boss Brian McDermott was pleased with the performance from his players and was philosophical about the bittersweet defeat to the league leaders.
"I thought some of the football was terrific - I thought we were going to go on and win the game but they have got massive quality in the team and we know that," he said.
"I look at that today and I remember where we were three years ago, we were just coming up to a game with Plymouth and we got beat 4-1 and it could have been about 10.
"We were staring Division 1 (League One) in the face and where we are now, three years later, is a phenomenal achievement for the club - I'm stood in line next to Sir Alex Ferguson playing Manchester United and we are 3-2 up."
The defeat leaves McDermott's side in 19th place in the table, four points from safety while United open up a three-point lead on neighbours Manchester City.