Man U back on top with big win

Man U back on top with big win

ON TARGET: Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney shoots to score past Fulham’s Hughes in the English Premier League match on Sunday. REUTERS

United officials buried a time capsule near the tunnel before Sunday's kickoff to mark 100 years at Old Trafford and Rooney etched his name ever deeper into the club's fabric with another unstoppable display.

At this rate the England striker could well surpass the 42 goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2007-8 season. On a day when United laboured to answer the victories for Chelsea and Arsenal that had dropped them down to third, Rooney provided the spark with a display that illustrated why England's World Cup hopes rest so heavily on his shoulders.

His instinctive first goal, 30 seconds into the second half punctured Fulham's resistance and his second with six minutes remaining settled some jitters against a dogged London side for whom Bobby Zamora fluffed two great chances.

To cap his afternoon Rooney's raking diagonal pass then instigated a move that ended with Dimitar Berbatov adding a third goal in the final minute as United, bidding for a fourth consecutive title, moved to 66 points with eight games remaining, two points ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal.

Chelsea and Arsenal are locked together on 64 points although the former have a better goal difference and a game in hand. Surprisingly Rooney hardly got a kick during the opening 20 minutes as Fulham stifled the home side although he did burst into life with a snap shot that was well saved by Mark Schwarzer.

Zamora wasted another chance when he delayed too long when clean through, allowing Vidic to make a block and shortly afterwards Rooney sealed the points with a sweeping right-foot finish after great wing play by Berbatov. Berbatov then headed in a Park-Ji sung cross to reach double figures for the season.

Didier Drogba scored twice to lift Chelsea to a 4-1 victory over West Ham United on Saturday while Arsenal shadowed them with a last-gasp victory at Hull City.
Drogba's double and one for Malouda killed off relegation-threatened West Ham who were level at halftime after former Chelsea man Scott Parker cancelled out Alex's header.
Nicklas Bendtner, fresh from a Champions League hat-trick against Porto in midweek, punished Hull keeper Boaz Myhill's mistake in the third minute of stoppage time to earn Arsenal a 2-1 victory at 10-man Hull.

Below the title scrap, Roman Pavlyuchenko boosted fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur's push for Champions League qualification with two goals in a 3-1 home defeat of Blackburn Rovers. Aston Villa, one of Tottenham's rivals for fourth spot, lost ground with a 0-0 draw at Stoke City.

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