Gary Pallister hailed the performance of Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand in last night's 2-0 victory at Roma.

The ex-United centre-half told MUTV: "Rio was fantastic.

"I wondered how he would react after Vidic went off injured, but he was absolutely superb."

Pallister feels that Ferdinand's growing maturity has lead to a blossoming of his leadership qualities, which have become an increasingly vital asset for United.

"Rio bosses the back four now," added Pally. "That's why he was captain against Roma and why Fabio Capello made him England captain.

"It's something he does a lot more now. At the start of his United career he didn't really do that.

"I think Gary Neville's absence has meant that he has had to come forward. Gary not being in the team has seen Rio come out of his shell."