Sir Alex Ferguson claimed Manchester United would not have been flattered if they had scored "six or seven" in their Carling Cup semi-final thriller with Manchester City last night. While Roberto Mancini felt the Blues were largely comfortable, Ferguson saw a different game, one where the Reds were in total control. "We missed a lot of chances," he said. "Edwin van der Sar made one marvellous save (from a Micah Richards' shot) after half-time but we produced a marvellous performance in the second half. "We could have scored six or seven." As it turned out, Wayne Rooney
's injury-time header was required to book a Wembley date with Aston Villa on February 28 after Carlos Tevez had taken the contest to the brink of extra-time with a superb finish. Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick had earlier put United ahead on aggregate in a game in which Ferguson felt Rooney produced a performance better than the one that saw him score four against Hull on Saturday. "It was much better than Saturday," Ferguson said of his number one striker, who played up front on his own. "I know he scored four goals but tonight his control leading the line and his link up play was fantastic. Overall it was a wonderful performance. World class." The one black mark on the night was when City's Craig Bellamy hit on the back of the head by a coin thrown from the crowd during an incident which also saw a bottle land on the pitch. Ferguson must check on the fitness of his players ahead of the trip to Arsenal on Sunday. New-boy Chris Smalling knows what he is letting himself in for after watching from the directors' box last night, although he is returning to Fulham for the remainder of the campaign. Of more immediate interest to Ferguson will be the disciplinary hearing Rio Ferdinand must face tomorrow after denying a charge of violent conduct for swinging an arm into the face of Craig Fagan at the weekend. It seemed Ferguson was taking a calculated risk playing Ferdinand in the knowledge that a three-match ban could be increased if the FA decide the appeal is "frivolous". Yet Ferguson insists his £29.1m defender has a worthwhile case. "If he gets a fair hearing Rio has a good chance," said Ferguson. "He was getting wrestled and punched. There were all sorts of things happening. "He was just trying to get himself free of it and unfortunately caught the lad on the back of the neck."