Rooney strike hands United victory over Fulham

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Manchester United extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to ten points after Wayne Rooney's second-half strike earned them a 1-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men were made to work hard for their three points, against a resolute opposition, who carried on fighting right until the final whistle.

An action packed first half hour presented a host of opportunities for both teams, with the hosts' woodwork in particular leading a charmed life, when a United corner on the 15-minute mark caused chaos in the box, and Jonny Evans's toe-poked effort came back off the post, eventually falling to Patrice Evra, who was denied at point-blank range by Mark Schwarzer.

Fulham responded when John Arne Riise hit a trademark half-volley from 30-yards, which was brilliantly tipped over the bar by David De Gea in the Manchester United goal.

Moments later, Bryan Ruiz struck the post for Martin Jol's men, before United charged up the other end, only to be denied by a last-ditch challenge from Brede Hangeland to deny Nani.

On the half hour mark, Rooney went one step closer to breaking the deadlock when Nani's defence-splitting pass put Tom Cleverley in on goal. He laid back to the England international striker on the edge of the box, who fired against the upright after beating the helpless Schwarzer.

With the game winding down to the half-time interval, play was stopped after a floodlight failure left players and fans in complete darkness for more than ten minutes. Both teams retreated to the changing rooms to the tune of visiting supporters singing: "We're Manchester United, we'll play in the dark".

After an unscheduled 15-minute interval, play was resumed with a United corner, but neither side created any chances of note before referee Kevin Friend blew up for the break.

Hangeland was replaced by Aaron Hughes at the start of the second-half for Fulham, but it was Manchester United's defence that began sloppier - Rio Ferdinand being dispossessed by Giorgios Karagounis. However, the Greek midfielder's tame effort ran wide of De Gea's post.

The Spanish stopper then got down well to a drilled shot from Chris Baird, before Robin van Persie broke clear of the Fulham defence to tee up Nani, whose shot was deflected out for a corner.

Hernandez came on for Valencia, as Ferguson pressed for a United winner, and Ryan Giggs replaced Cleverley in the middle of the park for the final 15 minutes.

Jol responded by bringing on Urby Emanuelson for his Cottagers debut, but his impact was minimal.

In the 79th minute, the deadlock was broken when Philippe Senderos misjudged a long-ball out of defence, allowing Rooney in on goal. The 27-year-old still had plenty to do, and cooly slotted past Schwarzer.

In the closing stages, Fulham threw everything at United in their search for an equaliser, but the visitors stood firm to make it 12 games unbeaten in the Premier League.




Premier League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney
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