FULHAM 0, MANCHESTER UNITED 1
It took a late route one Wayne Rooney goal to beat a feisty Fulham side at Craven Cottage in a match that was interrupted by a floodlight failure.
The result put United 10 points clear of City who host Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow.
Rooney underlined the importance of keeping calm as Fulham frustrated United in the early stages: “We knew it was going to be difficult we had a few chances we hit the post and crossbar three times but we had to keep going and keep the belief. Thankfully the goal eventually arrived and we hung on.
“It is just one of those things we had to keep our focus and keep pushing for the win. We are in a good position but we are not going to get carried away. We will keep going and see where we stand with three or four games to go.”
Mohammed Al Fayed announced this week that Fulham FC were debt free after the honorary Harrods Chairman converted £212m of debt in the club into equity but fans were left wondering if the electricity bill had been overlooked after a floodlight failure struck Craven Cottage shortly before half time.
It wasn’t the first time that the floodlights had suspended a Manchester United game, with an outage at Braga in the Champions League earlier in the season, and bemused spectators waited ten minutes for the lights to be restored.
Fulham had taken full part in the game despite being without former United striker Dimitar Berbatov who was injured. The change in Fulham’s tactics seemed to catch out United with Bryan Ruiz’ half-volley hitting the post early on amongst a succession of chances for both sides .
United on the other hand were occasionally sluggish and lacklustre on the flanks but still carved out chances, hitting the woodwork three times in an electrifying first half. Tom Cleverley’s lay off to Wayne Rooney was smacked firmly into the post by the United forward after 34 minutes in their best chance of the half.
The lights went out 90 seconds before the end of the first half, and it took almost ten minutes for the Craven Cottage staff to get the power back on but the spark seemed to have gone from the game along with the lights after the restart.
Fulham began to take the initiative towards the end of the game and produced several good chances to take the lead.
Ruiz’ shot was spilled by David De Gea but substitute Urby Emanuelson couldn’t capitalise, Ashkan Dejagah headed just wide after beating Patrice Evra to Bryan Ruiz’s cross and Rafael cleared off the line from Ruiz in the second half but United must never be written off and they took the lead through the most basic of attacking moves.
Rooney finally broke Fulham hearts in the 79th minute after a long ball over the top by Johnny Evans was taken around Philippe Senderos by the England striker who then threaded his shot past Mark Schwarzer and into the back of the net.
Senderos almost atoned for his mistake to allow Rooney to score as Fulham made a late charge to level the game but was denied on the line by Robin Van Persie and United held out for a valuable win.