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The veteran defender praised his side’s attacking play, admitting that goal difference could prove important come the end of the season after City’s big win over Norwich

Rio Ferdinand highlighted the importance of the early goal as Manchester United ran out easy winners over Aston Villa.

Wayne Rooney dispatched an early penalty to send the champions on their way, adding a second beyween strikes from Danny Welbeck and substitute Nani.

The result restored United’s five-point lead over rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, and Ferdinand admitted that the early goal was important to calm any nerves at Old Trafford.

He told Sky Sports after the match: "It's always nice to get an early goal, if you can get an early goal it settles the team down and you start playing a bit more fluently and you saw that today.

"We played some really good stuff, some one-touch, attacking football and when they [attackers] are in full flow it\s great to be behind them and watching it."

The result got Sir Alex Ferguson’s side back to winning ways after their shock defeat to Wigan on Wednesday, and England international Ferdinand admitted it was important to put that result behind them quickly.

"Wednesday was a blip. Fair dues to Wigan, they played well and we didn’t really turn up to be honest," he continued.

"Today we put in a good performance, the onus was on us to go out there and win the game and we've done that."

City moved to within two points of United after yesterday’s 6-1 thrashing of Norwich, but Ferdinand insisted his side were already under pressure to perform before the result at Carrow Road.

"We don’t really take [the City result] into consideration," he said. "We put pressure on ourselves to win games.

"The pressure's there from within us and from the fans. They demand that and so does the boss so we have to go out there and produce for our own selves first, any outside pressures
don’t really come into it.

"[The gap] is the same as before, the same as when it was eight points.

"We want to win every game of the season, that’s not changed, it’s not going to change before the last game of the season, we want to win every game."

And the 33-year-old revealed that the manager didn't need to remind them of the importance of goal difference this season, adding:  "He didn't need to [tell us].

"We know we need to score goals. If you're on top you need to punish teams and probably this season we haven’t done it as much as we should, but today we got a good amount."

A win over Everton next week would mean United could lift their 20th title with victory over City at the Etihad Stadium.

Ferdinand, however, was quick to play down the significance of winning the league at the home of their rivals, insisting that lifting the trophy is all that counts.

"I couldn't care less to be honest, as long as we win it and get the trophy it doesn't matter where you win it," he said.

"Obviously our fans would love it but as I say, as long as you get your hands on the trophy, you’d take it in your back garden."

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