Date: 29th December 2005 at 12:35pm
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Sir Alex Ferguson claimed referee Howard Webb was influenced by the Birmingham crowd’s reaction towards Cristiano Ronaldo as a controversial first goal for City meant United had to settle for a 2-2 draw at St Andrews.

Ronaldo was constantly booed by home supporters every time he touched the ball and was clearly fouled by City midfielder Nicky Butt when United were leading 1-0.

But Webb waved play on and Blues stormed down the other end to grab the first of two equalisers which gave them a precious point in the battle against relegation.

Ferguson conceded that the home side were worthy of a share of the spoils but was upset with the first goal.

He said: ‘We have a problem with Ronaldo. Every time he gets the ball, the crowd boo – and the referee has listened to the crowd. There is no question about that.

‘Ronaldo was clearly brought down by Nicky Butt. I don’t know what you can do about things. But the booing is unfair to the boy because he is such a great player.

‘It was frustrating. If the referee watches the game and does not listen to the crowd, then OK, but that is not the case.’

Ferguson was pleased with his side’s overall showing – although they are now 11 points adrift of leaders Chelsea – but was disappointed with the nature of their defending, particularly for the second goal from Walter Pandiani.

Ferguson said: ‘It was a real cup tie game and a draw was a fair result. The disappointment is we led twice and never won. The defending for the second goal was very poor. We can’t accept that kind of defending.

‘I know you can make a case for the fact that Wes Brown and Mikael Silvestre were out injured and we had to play young Kieran Richardson at full-back but we should be doing better than that. Giving away two goals like that is not like us.

‘We had the chance to finish it off at 2-1 but I had a feeling when we didn’t get the first goal that we would suffer for it.’

Ferguson is still optimistic despite the mountain his side now face to catch Chelsea. He said: ‘It is a bad result for us. But we have to go again. We have been playing well and there is a good spirit about us.

‘We have played some terrific football tonight in the final third of the field and Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy were fantastic.’