Manchester United 1-0 Fulham
Last Updated: Mon, 26 Mar 2012 22:08
Wayne Rooney's goal handed Manchester United a 1-0 win against Fulham to move them three points clear at the top of the table.
United were far from their best at Old Trafford as Rooney scored a few minutes before half time. And, when they failed to kill the game off after the interval, Fulham were denied a clear penalty as they pressed on in the final minutes to leave Sir Alex Ferguson's holding on for the win.
The victory moves them clear of title rivals Manchester City on 73 points, while Fulham are 13th on 36 points.
United started the game on top but Fulham were rarely troubled by their forwards despite all their possession and it was the visitors who looked more dangerous on the break.
Moussa Dembele fired wide from the edge of the area before Clint Dempsey forced a low save from David De Gea on 20 minutes having put Jonny Evans on the back foot, before his curling effort was gathered by the United custodian three minutes later.
United got back in their stride with Luis Antonio Valencia seeing his shot from inside the area bounce off Brede Hangeland and into the hands of Mark Schwarzer on 29 minutes.
Two minutes later Patrice Evra tried an ambitious over-head kick in the middle of the box after Ryan Giggs' cross deflected off Stephen Kelly and looped into his path but he did not get a clean connection and it bounced wide.
United took the lead on 42 minutes when John Arne Riise failed to deal with Ashley Young's cross from the left and, when it dropped to the back post Evans did well to pull it back into the path of Rooney who made no mistake from close range.
United started the second half brightly and almost doubled their lead on 47 minutes when Valencia got on the end of Giggs' ball over the top and his half volley was parried away by Schwarzer.
Young then curled a low effort towards the far corner with his right foot which Schwarzer did well to parry away on 53 minutes.
However, Young had United's best chance on 75 minutes when he had two quick efforts well saved by Schwarzer at the near post before Giggs' follow-up shot from the edge of the area was blocked by Hangeland.
United's inability to kill the game off almost came back to haunt them in the last minute when Michael Carrick bundled Danny Murphy over inside his own area, but referee Michael Oliver waved play on much to the visitors' frustration.