x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Fulham 0 Manchester United 1

Wayne Rooney's winner against Fulham ensures the lights remain switched on as Manchester United continue to remain in the front.

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney provided the goal against the run of play and Fulham's spirited display in the second half. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney provided the goal against the run of play and Fulham's spirited display in the second half. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

LONDON //As "Just like a team that's gonna win the Football League" echoed around Craven Cottage's Putney End last night, Manchester United moved 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

A 78th-minute Wayne Rooney goal was the difference between United and a Fulham side who were looked their most threatening after they had conceded.

United have now defeated Fulham at home in the league and FA Cup this season, the latter 4-1 last week. They won the equivalent fixture 5-0 last term, but successive defeats in 2008 and 2009 warned them that Fulham are a different proposition at home.

Despite missing their top-scorer and former Old Trafford striker Dimitar Berbatov to a hamstring injury, as well as midfielders Steve Sidwell, Mahamadou Diarra, Kerim Frei and Kieran Richardson, Fulham hoped to break a run of seven games without victory against the league leaders.

The league's 12th-placed side contributed to an action packed first 15 minutes.

Bryan Ruiz was central to two early chances, before a save, the crossbar and a goal-line clearance kept the ball out of Mark Schwarzer's net in the seventh minute after efforts from Patrice Evra and Rooney.

The action was end-to-end, with John Arne Rise's dipping 30-yard shot tipped over by David de Gea in the United goal after 11 minutes. A persistent danger, Ruiz hit the post with a shot four minutes later.

At the other end, Brede Hangeland's headed clearance grazed his own crossbar.

Inevitably, the frantic tempo calmed, but the woodwork again featured in the 31st minute when a move involving Nani, Tom Cleverley and Evra led to Rooney's curling shot from the edge of the area striking Schwarzer's left-hand post.

The drama was not confined to the pitch. As United were about to take a corner, the four floodlights cut out minutes before half time. It was the second time this season that lights have failed during a United away match.

The teams were led off the field and the directors' box and executive seats emptied, before power was restored five minutes later. The players returned for the remaining two minutes of the first half, the highlight of which was a saved Robin van Persie shot.

The Dutchman had the first decent effort of the second half, a weak glancing header from a Nani cross. Fulham remained a threat, sometimes to themselves, as they frequently squandered possession.

But they grew in confidence" as Sascha Riether's low shot was fumbled by De Gea on 70 minutes. A Ruiz header was cleared off the line by Rafael, but just as Fulham were looking most likely to score, United broke the deadlock.

Philippe Senderos was left out of position when Van Persie pulled out of a header as Jonny Evans launched a long ball forward. The ball fell invitingly to Rooney, who ran with it before guiding home for his 10th goal in as many games.


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