Manchester United opens nine point gap at top of Premier League
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Manchester United took on Fulham today at Craven Cottage, with the Premier League leaders hoping to open a 9 point gap above second place Chelsea, who are not playing this weekend in the league. Fulham on the other hand needs points to stay out of the relegation zone, and wanted to pull 12 clear of 18th place Charlton Athletic. Both teams fielded strong starting sides with Fulham playing Canadian Thomasz Radzinski and American Brian McBride. The Red Devils starting 11 included Henrik Larsson, the on-loan striker from Helsingborgs, Wayne Rooney as his strike partner, and the Portuguese star Christiano Ronaldo in the midfield.
Fulham started out the game strongly, with a Simon Davies volley which was thumped just right of Edwin Van Der Sar's post. After 17 minutes, United defender Nemanja Vidic got tied up with his goal keeper, and Brian McBride was able to sweep in the ball off the post, giving Fulham a deserved lead. With United in need of some inspiration, Ronaldo banged a shot just wide of the net. On 19 minutes, Wayne Rooney made a run down the right side, and crossed the ball to skipper Ryan Giggs who clipped the ball off the outside of his boot, and into the opposite side of the goal, tying the match. Evra should have put the leaders in front, but his wide open volley was dragged wide and the game went into halftime drawn 1 - 1.
After the break, Fulham came out stronger yet again, and Van Der Sar was forced to make a great one handed save off Davies shot. On 52 minutes, Van Der Sar could only watch as Thomas Radzinski blasted a header off his crossbar, but did not drop into the net. Van Der Sar earned his money this day, as he was forced into another spectacular save after a Brian McBride shot was aimed for the bottom corner, but was denied by the Dutchman. With the clock winding down, United began to pressure, and Christiano Ronaldo had an inspired run, beating out three defenders, and lashing the ball into the bottom right corner of the net, past Jan Lastuvka, giving the Red Devils a 2 - 1 lead with only 2 minutes remaining in normal time. Fulham pressed for an equilizer, but Manchester prevailed, continuing their winning run this season.
- Starting XI: 12-Jan Lastuvka, 2-Moritz Volz, 2-Carlos Bocanegra, 5-Phillipe Christanval, 7-Liam Rosenior, 8-Michael Brown, 14-Papa Diop (71' - Demspey), 37-Alexei Smertin, 25-Simon Davies, 13-Thomasz Radzinski (72' John), 20-Brian McBride (Goal 17', 79' Helguson)
- Substitutes: 30-Tony Warner, 22-Wayne Routledge, 23-Clint Dempsey, 9-Heider Helguson, 15-Collins John
- Yellow Cards: 24'-Brown, 41'-Radzinski, 54'-Diop
- Starting XI: 1-Edwin Van Der Sar, 6-Wes Brown, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 15-Nemanja Vidic (59' O'Shea), 3-Patrice Evra (67' Silvestre), 7-Christiano Ronaldo (Goal 88'), 18-Paul Scholes, 16-Michael Carrick (66' Saha), 11-Ryan Giggs (Goal 29'), 8-Wayne Rooney, 17-Henrik Larsson
- Substitutes: 29-Thomasz Kuszczak, 22-John O'Shea, 27-Mikael Silvestre, 9-Louis Saha, 13-Ji-Sung Park
- Yellow Cards: 42'-Ferdinand, 44'-Scholes
- Alex Livie. "Fulham 1 - 2 Manchester United" — , February 24, 2007
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