Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson lauded Javier Hernandez after the rookie striker steered his side into the UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.
The off-season signing scored a brace, either side of half-time, in the 2-1 win against Marseille at Old Trafford to make it five goals in five appearances and 16 in all in his debut season. Hernandez's remarkable impact has been a huge bonus for United, according to Ferguson. He opened the scoring in the fifth minute by getting on the end of a cross from Wayne Rooney. His second in the 76th minute was almost identical with substitute Antonio Valencia supplying the delivery.
Ferguson said: "I think we are surprised. When we bought him we thought it would take him some time to adjust first of all. He has adjusted to the physical part very well and he is lasting 90 minutes very well now.
"That has given us great options because we look at the main strikers as Wayne (Rooney), (Dimitar) Berbatov and Hernandez. With Hernandez's form the way it is we can make some changes now.
"Hernandez's pace and movement is helping us. He is real handful. You see the first goal, they boy's movement is fantastic. Wayne is enjoying the freedom behind Hernandez and is in really good form at the moment."
Despite an own goal from Wes Brown with eight minutes remaining United advanced to the quarter finals for the fifth successive season. Ferguson said: "I am proud of the team's achievements. We have had some great experiences in the European Cup over the years.
"It is the best tournament in the world. It is the one you want to try and win again. This team's best chance is because our away form is very good. That always gives you a chance in the next stage. Every team has their qualities. It does not matter who you get, you have got to take it. You cannot pick your teams. At this stage you are going to get a very hard game."
The only downside for Ferguson was that John O'Shea and his replacement Fabio both came off with suspected hamstring injuries. Ferguson said: "The balance of the team was affected with two defenders coming off. There was a lack of experience in the team and that could have cost us. But we hung on.
"They are a very powerful team and their delivery into the box was very good. They kept us under pressure a lot of times. When we played our football particularly in their half of the field we did okay. We always looked comfortable on the ball. But we just couldn't get enough of it in the second half in their half of the field. They kept us on the edge of our box a lot."
Marseille coach Didier Deschamps was disconsolate after the defeat. He said: "My first feeling is one of regret. We let our chance slip and we are out. Manchester United are not a fantastic side and they suffered two injuries during the game. They were not at their best but we could not capitalise on that.
"But we are a young side, who are learning, and it will take time. At this level small details win you games. Our aim at the beginning of the season was to get to the last 16 and we have achieved that. So in a way we have done reasonably well."