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Rediff.com  » Sports » EPL: Rooney brace puts Man United back on top

EPL: Rooney brace puts Man United back on top

March 15, 2010 08:52 IST

Wayne Rooney scored his 31st and 32nd goals of the season to lead Manchester United to a 3-0 home win over Fulham on Sunday that nosed the champions back ahead in the Premier League title race.

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

The England striker could well surpass the 42 goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2007-08 season.

On a day when United laboured to answer victories for Chelsea and Arsenal, which had dropped them down to third, Rooney provided the spark with a performance 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 a few jitters, when Bobby Zamora fluffed two great chances for the visitors.

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

In Sunday's other match, fifth-placed Manchester City needed a superb stoppage-time equaliser by Adam Johnson to earn a 1-1 draw at Sunderland, which left them two points behind Tottenham Hotspur in the battle for fourth spot.

SLOW START

Rooney devastated AC Milan in midweek but hardly got a kick during the opening 20 minutes at Old Trafford as Fulham stifled the home side, although he did burst into life with a snap shot that was well saved by Mark Schwarzer.

Fulham, beaten in the Europa League by Juventus on Thursday, could have taken the lead when Zamora left United's central defensive duo of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic for dead but his attempted lob cleared the crossbar.

A frustrated Rooney went off at halftime complaining about a penalty that was not awarded but he lifted the mood straight after the re-start when he found space in a congested area to beat Schwarzer with a side-foot finish.

Zamora wasted another chance by delaying 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.

A rip-roaring second half at the Stadium of Light saw Manchester City lay siege to the home goal as they sought to make amends for a dismal opening 45 minutes in which Kenwyne Jones headed Sunderland in front.

Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon made several outstanding saves but could do nothing when Johnson curled a left-foot shot into the top corner just past the 90-minute mark.

City have 50 points from 28 games with Tottenham on 52 from 29.

Liverpool (48) and Aston Villa (46) are also in the mix for Champions League qualification.

Sunderland stayed 14th, seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Source:
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