Premier League - United go 10 points clear

Sat, 09 Apr 16:54:00 2011

Manchester United took another step towards the Premier League title with a 2-0 victory over Fulham at Old Trafford.

Match Highlights:

Dimitar Berbatov scored the first with a placed finish after 12 minutes, while 20 minutes later Antonio Valencia nodded in a second.

The hosts failed to add to their advantage in the second half, but Fulham never looked like coming back into a game that the league leaders controlled.

United made wholesale changes from the side that beat Chelsea in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge.

Just three players - captain Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Valencia - were retained from Wednesday's starting XI, while Berbatov was given the task of leading the line in the absence of Wayne Rooney.

A near full-strength Fulham made a bright start to the match but the attacking triumvirate of Nani, Berbatov and Valencia proved too hot to handle.

Valencia fired an early warning shot from distance before a slick move created the opener.

Berbatov's backheel got the ball to Nani, who carved his way in from the left and swapped passes with Anderson before picking out the Bulgarian, who looked a touch offside, for a simple finish in the box.

Anderson had a chance to make it two but skewed a shot after some inspired play from Berbatov.

But it was Nani who stole the show in the first-half.

With outrageous skill and quick feet he almost fashioned a remarkable chance for Berbatov midway through the half, and gave right-back Chris Baird a torrid afternoon, leaving him for dead on more than one occasion.

But it was Schwarzer who he caught out for United's second, as the Australian stopper made a rash decision to come out of his area for a long ball. Nani beat him to it, kept the ball in on the byline, and attempted a finish from a narrow angle.

Brede Hangeland, who defended stoutly all match, half-cleared, but only into the path of Valencia, who nodded home his first Premier League goal in 16 months from point-blank range.

Fulham, who had played the ball with confidence throughout, lost their zip, and though they fought gamely in the second-half, United controlled the game in second gear.

When chances came, they tended to fall the way of the Red Devils.

Anderson saw his first-time effort tipped away by Schwarzer shortly after the restart, while Valencia was the provider once again as Berbatov's hooked volley was deflected wide of the goal.

Fulham introduced Eidur Gudjohnsen, whose cameo added a touch of invention to the visitors' play.

He came closest to scoring for the Cottagers with an attempt from distance, but his shot sailed just a whisker wide of target shortly after the hour.

Zamora also went close with a free kick just wide of the bar after a probing run from Gael Kakuta.

They were isolated chances, however, with United remaining a threat at the other end.

The hosts, who withdrew Valencia and Nani late in the game to generous applause from the crowd, cantered through the final stages to complete an ideal afternoon and close in on a 19th league crown.

Mark Patterson / Eurosport

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