Date:Sunday February 5 2006
MAN UTD: Van der Sar, Neville (Vidic 69), Brown, Silvestre,Evra (Bardsley 81), Ronaldo, Smith, Park (Rooney 69),Richardson, Saha, van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Fletcher, Steele.
FULHAM: Niemi, Rosenior, Knight, Bocanegra, Bridge, Malbranque,Elliott, Brown (Radzinski 46), Boa Morte, Helguson (John 76),McBride.
Subs Not Used: Goma, Warner, Niclas Jensen.
Chris Coleman had a frustrating day, but such is life in the Premiership. Some you win ... some you lose.
Cristiano Ronaldo produced the strikes that made the difference, as he drove home a superb free-kick, then wrapped up victory four minutes from time with an equally clinical close range finish.
But Coleman's outburst at the match officials' failure to spot Ruud van Nistelrooy clearly standing a yard offside in the build-up to United's third, which Louis Saha prodded home, will not take anything away from a great Ronaldo performance.
The action began when Park turned onto Neville's low cross, then chipped a weak effort towards goal which took a massive deflection off Carlos Bocanegra and flew into the corner.
Within 13 minutes Ronaldo swerved the ball left and right, which left Niemi stranded yet again as the winger's 30-yarder flashed into the roof of the Fulham net.
Nemanja Vidic could have had a more solid performance and his lack of inches was twice exposed. Brian McBride profited by leaping over Gary Neville on the first occasion and Heidar Helguson beat Patrice Evra with similar ease at the other post after Wayne Bridge had embarked on a blistering left wing raid.
When Saha prodded home United's third, pouncing on the loose ball when Niemi again repelled Van Nistelrooy, Coleman immediately raced to the TV monitor sensing an offside had been missed in the build-up.
Coleman instantly shot out of the dug-out and referee Martin Atkinson sent him to the stand.
Steed Malbranque almost capitalised on United's defensive vulnerability with a shot Edwin van der Sar needed to claw away after it had taken a deflection off Mikael Silvestre.
By that stage, Silvestre was partnering Vidic at centre-half after the Serbian had replaced Neville in a double change that also brought Rooney's introduction.
However, for once, Rooney was nothing more than a bit part player and it was Ronaldo who finished Fulham off with a clinical low, angled drive after Niemi had once again denied Van Nistelrooy.
Date:Sunday February 5 2006
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|Aston Villa||1||-||1||Man Utd|
|2. Man City||22||14||5||3||23||47|
|4. Man Utd||22||11||7||4||15||40|
|7. West Ham||22||10||6||6||10||36|
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