Man United beats Fulham 2-0 in Premier League
Manchester United earned a comfortable 2-0 win over Fulham on Saturday to inch closer to the Premier League title, with Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia scoring in the first half.
Berbatov started up front as Wayne Rooney began serving a two-match ban for swearing into a TV camera at West Ham last weekend, and the Bulgarian netted his league-leading 21st goal of the campaign in the 11th minute.
Valencia scored his first league goal of the season in the 31st as United earned its eighth win in the last 11 Premier League matches.
The victory puts United 10 points ahead of second-place Arsenal, which has two games in hand.
It capped a bittersweet day for United manager Alex Ferguson after his horse, What A Friend, failed to finish the Grand National, which took place during the second half of the game.
''At this time of the season winning is the name of the game,'' Ferguson said. ''In the second half we became wasteful in possession. We could have suffered for that but the important thing is we're keeping the momentum going.''
United is on course for a treble, holding a 1-0 advantage over Chelsea going into the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday and having reached the FA Cup semifinals.
Fulham manager Mark Hughes, who won two league titles as a player at United, said his former team looks good enough to win all three trophies.
''It's a big ask but they have been here before,'' Hughes said. ''They are very experienced and if anyone can do it then they can.''
Yet United was forced to overcome a nervous start before securing a third straight league win.
Keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, who was standing in for the rested Edwin van der Sar, was kept busy in the opening exchanges as mid-table Fulham made a bright start.
The Polish stopper kept out Gael Kakuta's 20-yard drive in the first minute before Kuszczak made an even smarter save to deny Moussa Dembele in the sixth.
England striker Bobby Zamora should have given the visitors the lead in the eighth but, to United's relief, he was unable to keep his composure and lashed his effort from inside the area high and wide.
Four minutes later United went ahead as Berbatov demonstrated why he is the Premier League's top scorer. Replays showed the striker may have been offside, but Berbatov's finish from eight yards, after collecting a pass from the lively Nani, was of the highest quality.
United doubled their advantage in the 32nd, soon after Anderson had spurned an opportunity to make it 2-0 after firing wide from inside the area.
Fortunately Valencia, who has recently returned to action after recovering from a fractured ankle, was not so wasteful in the 32nd.
The Ecuador international was presented with a simple header two yards from goal after Nani's attempted finish from an acute angle was deflected into Valencia's path by Fulham defender Aaron Hughes, who was trying to clear the ball on the line.
Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer was at fault for the goal, the Australian international rushing off his line in a failed attempt to stop Nani.
Schwarzer made up for his error by saving from Anderson in the 48th before Kuszczak produced the save of the game to deny Eidur Gudjohnsen from 25 yards in the 62nd.