Sir Alex Ferguson says he has been pleased with the recent defensive performances of his Manchester United side since their harrowing defeat at the hands of Manchester City last month.
City took advantage of United's defensive frailties to claim a shock 6-1 win at Old Trafford in October, but since then the reigning Barclays Premier League champions have responded admirably and have now won five games in a row without conceding a single goal going into their UEFA Champions League showdown against Benfica on Tuesday.
Ferguson expressed his delight over their defensive performances of late, saying he was pleased to have garnered momentum that has helped keep the pressure up on league leaders City despite a plethora of defensive injuries.
"The players have addressed the situation well and the collective response has been good," said Ferguson.
"At this stage of the season what we try to do is get through to the New Year near to the top. Top would be fine, but to be near the top would mean the run-in would present us with an opportunity.
"We have won five games in a row. That is momentum. We have had a few issues which, hopefully, we are gradually getting over.
"We have all worked really hard defending and, when you get the ball, you hope you produce enough football to win the match."
United have a growing injury list going into the game against Benfica, with Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans set to miss the game at Old Trafford, while Patrice Evra is a doubt after suffering from a virus.
Further forward Tom Cleverley is set to be sidelined until the new year with an ankle ligament damage while Michael Owen faces a similar spell in the treatment room having suffered a thigh muscle strain in United's last outing in the UEFA Champions League against Romanian outfit Otelul Galati.
"Injuries always play a part. It does unsettle the balance of the team at times and sometimes we do have to rethink," Ferguson said of his side's injury concerns.
"We have Anderson and Tom Cleverley injured. Michael Carrick played his first game for a while on Saturday. Darren Fletcher has been out. We have made some changes to the team from the start of the season, which you don't envisage when you see them all fresh.
"We went through the United States pre-season tour without a single injury and then you get hit with a list of them."