Wayne Rooney struck late on as Manchester United saw off Fulham 1-0 to move 10 points clear atop the Premier League.
Both sides had great chances throughout but Rooney showed nerves of steel to calmly finish inside the box on 79 minutes, as the visitors overcame a strong Fulham display and floodlight failure at Craven Cottage.
Fulham were first to attack with purpose, Hugo Rodallega breaking the offside trap with ease after four minutes only to see his pass from Ashkan Dejagah well blocked in the centre.
United should have taken the lead in the seventh minute, with only Mark Schwarzer’s desperate dive preventing a certain goal. Patrice Evra hit the bar seconds later with the goal gaping, then saw another shot expertly saved by the Australian goalkeeper.
It was David de Gea’s turn to excel after 11 minutes, the Spaniard superbly tipping over a John Arne Riise volley from 30 yards.
Riise shaped to shoot again three minutes later but opted to turn and feed Bryan Ruiz, who saw his cute volley tupped onto the post
United then hit the post with the ball deflecting high from a corner onto Schwarzer’s bar, with Antonio Valencia sending the follow-up wide.
There were no further chances until the 32nd minute, when United hit the woodwork for a third time with Rooney curling an effort into Schwarzer’s left-hand post from 20 yards.
The floodlights then went out with five minutes of the half to play and saw the players walk off for a short interval before completing the opening stanza.
Fulham came out full of attacking intent after half-time, Giorgos Karagounis wasting a great chance on 55 minutes.
Robin van Persie later broke the offside trap and teed up Nani on the byline, but the Portuguese’s eight-yard shot was well blocked by Chris Baird, while De Gea was perhaps fortunate his parried save was not turned in by Ruiz with 20 minutes remaining.
United struck the decisive blow when Philippe Senderos tried to block Van Persie’s run but only succeeded in letting Rooney latch onto a long ball, and the United striker expertly curled the ball around the backtracking Aaron Hughes and into Schwarzer’s net.
Van Persie then cleared a Fulham header off the line and Javier Hernandez missed a one-on-one in a pulsating ending as United tightened their grip on the title race.
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