Talented Wayne Rooney made a goal-scoring return from his five-week injury layoff to help Manchester United defeat Fulham 3-0 and extend its Premier League lead to five points.
The popular Wayne, who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury, completed the scoring after coming on as a second-half substitute at Old Trafford last night. United led through first- half goals by Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov.
We must consider that United’s ninth straight league victory lifted the Red Devils to 59 points with 13 games remaining as they bid to tie Liverpool’s record of 18 English championships. Liverpool is second with 54 points.
“We didn’t take any risks with Wayne,” United manager Alex Ferguson told to the press. “I could have played him on Sunday and in despite of that, I felt wait a few days and we’ll get the dividends of that, and we got that tonight.”
The Red Devils has now gone 14 matches unbeaten in England’s top division as it seeks an unprecedented five trophies this season. Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar last night extended his shutout streak to 1,302 minutes, a European record.
In fact, Scholes opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he volleyed Michael Carrick’s corner kick from the edge of the area and Fulham goalie Mark Schwarzer spilled the shot over the line. It was the 34-year-old Scholes’s 97th Premier League goal.
“Over the years I have always contributed goals and in despite of that, in the last couple of seasons that hasn’t been the case, as I have been playing slightly deeper,” Scholes told MUTV. “Hopefully that’s the start of a few more to come.”
“The Apache” Carlos Tevez had a goal disallowed for offside in the 25th minute before Berbatov made it 2-0 five minutes later when he got between Schwarzer and Aaron Hughes to tap in a cross from John O’Shea, who had been picked out by Scholes’s chip.
It’s amazing to notice that United had a second goal waved off just before half time as Berbatov was judged offside as he headed in Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick.
Indeed, Rooney, who got injured against Wigan on Jan. 14, replaced Berbatov 15 minutes into the second half. Less than three minutes later he met Park Ji-Sung’s shot across the face of goal at the far post for his seventh league goal of the season.
Edwin Van der Sar, who hasn’t permited a goal during United’s unbeaten streak, surpassed the European single-season mark of 1,275 minutes without allowing a goal set by Atletico Madrid’s Abel Resino in 1991.
Should the Dutch keeper hold Blackburn scoreless for 89 minutes in three days, he will eclipse the record of team Brugge keeper Dany Verlinden, who went 1,390 minutes without allowing a goal over two seasons of the Belgian league in 1990.