Norwich City were the better team admits Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson insisted Manchester United were indebted to young keeper David De Gea as much as Welsh legend Ryan Giggs after a breathless Premier League win at Carrow Road.

Giggs claimed the plaudits following his stoppage time strike to clinch the points on a landmark 900th club appearance for the decorated visitors.

Ferguson led the tributes for the midfielder's latest Old Trafford achievement with the Premier League champions, but also heaped praise in the direction of his Spanish keeper who is now beginning to live up to that �19m price tag.

'He made two or three marvellous saves,' said Ferguson. 'The lad's been doing great since the Liverpool game when he had a disappointing day. He's growing all the time and proved again what a great goalkeeper he's going to be.

'We always knew he had the potential, he's been showing that since he was a kid during his time at Atletico Madrid but this game, in my mind, was confirmation again of how good he is going to be.

'In the first half they had 12 crosses and it was only (Jonny) Evans, (Rio) Ferdinand and De Gea that meant we survived it. They were brilliant the three of them, in the second half, they did not get as many crosses in but were still a threat and they were always in the game. The keeper was terrific.

'When we got the ball down we were fine, but without the ball we didn't do well. When we were facing the sun in the first half it was a real difficulty. We're not that kind of team that crosses the ball the way they do, they have some powerful lads up front.'

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Giggs and another of the old guard who recently came out of retirement, Paul Scholes, bailed Ferguson's side out to keep up the pressure on their city neighbours at the Premier League summit.

'To mark his 900th game in that way he probably deserves it for the service he has given this club,' he said. 'I don't think we'll see that ever again. To play 900 games for the one club is exceptional. An amazing career, an amazing man. We could have played Ryan on Thursday but wanted to play the younger ones.

'We knew it was an important game and it's not easy coming here, I've never found it easy and every time we've come down we've had to battle. That was the case again, we needed all our experienced players and Ryan and Scholesy in particular.

'I forgot about Scholesy scoring the first one. He and Giggs are the best players this club have ever had. It is a great result, the fans have celebrated really well and next week we have a really big game at White Hart Lane, which will be fantastic.

'I am sure it will have an impact. Everyone knows we never give in, no matter who plays us, they know they will have to play right to the death.'

Ferguson conceded Norwich deserved some tangible reward.

'I have to say we were lucky in the sense that although we made a host of chances – Danny Welbeck could have scored four – I thought Norwich were the better team,' he said. 'They kept at it and kept at it and deserved their goal, there's no question about it. They deserved a result actually. They had a lot of thrust about them, determined and kept crossing that ball into the box.

'Once they scored we did really well. We started to play but that was only for about five or six minutes after they scored and that is not enough.

'Norwich had more promise about them. I thought we were lethargic, too casual on the ball. Then when we lost the goal, we played brilliantly. That tells you something about the temperament, they do not get nervous and started to up their game, so that augurs well for us. It was incredible. I think the players were probably a bit embarrassed with the chances they missed, they know they should have done better during the game, and that is irrespective of Norwich being the better team.'