Premier League Roundup, Mar. 14
Wayne Rooney scored two goals and helped set up another to lead
Manchester United to a 3-0 win over Fulham on Sunday and top spot
in the Premier League.
United struggled to break down a stubborn defense throughout
the first half but Rooney scored in the first minute of the second
period with a low shot into the bottom corner from Nani’s pass.
Rooney added his second in the 84th with a first-time shot
into the far corner from Dimitar Berbatov’s cross and then helped
set up his fellow striker for a headed goal with a minute left.
United manager Alex Ferguson said Rooney could top the 42
goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo two years ago.
“I said a while ago it’s impossible for a player to get 42
but he is on 32 and there is a challenge there for him,” Ferguson
said. “He has 13 possible games and you never know. I wouldn’t put
it beyond him.
“I was just glad he got to the 30 mark, but we are enjoying
his goal scoring.”
Rooney’s 31st and 32nd goals of the season helped take United
to 66 points, two clear of Chelsea and Arsenal. Chelsea beat West
Ham 4-1 on Saturday and has played a game fewer than its title
rivals, who each have just eight matches left.
“You have to think about goal difference,” Ferguson said. “We
are only four goals ahead of Chelsea. I wish it was 14 to be
honest, but at least it is in our advantage.”
Manchester City missed the chance to go level on points with
fourth-place Tottenham with a 1-1 draw at Sunderland.
Sunderland led through a ninth-minute goal from Kenwyne
Jones, who was left unmarked to head in a cross by Steed
Malbranque, but substitute Adam Johnson curled in a late equalizer
from the corner of the area.
Although City narrowly avoided defeat, it has won one of its
past six matches and is two points outside the Champions League
United had most of the pressure and possession in the opening
half at Old Trafford but Fulham had chances from a shot by Clint
Dempsey that flew just over the bar and one from Zoltan Gera that
Dempsey started for the first time since injuring his right
knee Jan. 17. He returned as a 61st-minute substitute in Thursday’s
3-1 Europa League defeat at Juventus.
Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer did not have to make a save
until the 30th minute, diving full stretch to keep out a first-time
shot from Rooney.
United dominated after the break, with Rooney sparking the
move that led to his 15th goal in 12 matches. He passed out to Nani
on the left and hit the return pass past Schwarzer.
Bobby Zamora had a chance to equalize with 15 minutes left
when he got past Nemanja Vidic and raced in on goal. But the United
defender recovered to block his shot with a perfectly timed sliding
tackle just inside the area.
United then went close with a header by Berbatov, a shot by
Patrice Evra and a shot by Darren Fletcher that Schwarzer saved
Rooney doubled United’s advantage by playing a pass out to
Berbatov on the right and shooting from near the penalty spot from
the return pass.
He then played a key role in United’s third goal, hitting a
pass wide right to Park Ji-sung, who curled in a cross that
Berbatov headed at the near post for his 10th goal of the season.