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United on top after Rooney strike

sports Updated: Mar 15, 2010 00:21 IST

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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 defence 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. Rooney's 31st and 32nd goals of the season helped take United to 66 points, two clear of Chelsea and Arsenal. Chelsea have played a game fewer than thier title rivals, who each have just eight matches left.

United had most of the pressure and possession in the opening half but Fulham had chances from a shot by Clint Dempsey that flew just over the bar and one from Zoltan Gera that went wide. 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 equalise 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 one-handed.

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.