Fulham undone by Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo helped himself to a brace as Man Utd brushed aside Fulham.
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 03/12/07 10:55pm
Cristiano Ronaldo helped himself to a brace as Manchester United brushed aside Fulham 2-0 at Old Trafford.
The Cottagers were hoping for a solid start, but a poor defensive header from Steven Davis led to Ronaldo lashing home the opener after 10 minutes.
Fulham, to their credit, finished the half in the ascendancy with Danny Murphy and Shefki Kuqi both having chances to level matters for Lawrie Sanchez's men.
Ronaldo's second on the hour mark ended the match as a contest. He out-jumped Dejan Stefanovic in the middle to guide home substitute John O'Shea's cross inside Antti Niemi's far post.
The Portugal international thought he had won a penalty late on after going down under a challenge from Fulham keeper Niemi, but he was booked for diving - although it mattered little to the result.
Ronaldo opened the scoring on 10 minutes after a poor headed clearance by former Aston Villa midfielder Davis. When he inexplicably nodded what should have been a clearing header straight back into his own penalty area, Nemanja Vidic climbed high enough to nod the ball into Ronaldo's path.
From 10 yards, the winger let fly with a thunderbolt volley Niemi had no chance at all of keeping out. It was the only thing Niemi did not keep out during an outstanding first-half performance as the Finland goalkeeper proved a particularly frustration for Carlos Tevez.
After denying Tevez with one excellent point-blank save, Niemi pulled off an even better one midway through the opening period after the Argentinian nipped in front of Stefanovic to reach Ryan Giggs' near-post cross.
True, Tevez's shot struck Niemi flush in the face but no matter. Any part of the body will do.
Tevez was denied again in stoppage-time; Niemi alive to his disguised curling shot to the near post as Wayne Rooney waited for a deeper cross.
On his return to action following an ankle injury, Rooney flitted in and out of the contest, scuffing one effort after being sent through by Rio Ferdinand and another after the interval when Ryan Giggs had set him up.
He also lost his rag with Ronaldo at a failure to supply a simple pass instead of embarking on a series of tricks and left the pitch in a bad mood as well after a couple of borderline offside decisions had gone against him.
At times, United were so much in command it was too easy and as a consequence, passes went astray, offering Fulham hope of avoiding what should have been inevitable defeat.
Murphy forced Edwin van der Sar into a low save and also curled a 20-yard shot just wide.
It was Kuqi who had the best chance though, arriving unmarked to meet Simon Davies' cross, yet failing to keep his header on target.
Not much changed immediately after the break but any lingering fears of points being needlessly tossed away were dismissed by Ronaldo's second.
Premier League defenders know all about Ronaldo's dancing feet but his heading ability was recently likened to that of 'King' Denis Law by Ferguson, whose words were proved unerringly accurate as he rose to meet John O'Shea's cross and glance it into the bottom corner.
United really should have won by more but after Rooney missed his golden chance, referee Rob Styles booked Ronaldo for diving as he tumbled over Niemi, who had come sliding out to block after the winger had been sent through by Louis Saha.
Whilst it was true no contact had been made, it was only because Ronaldo had taken evasive action and Sir Alex Ferguson's fury on the touchline was understandable.Niemi denied Ronaldo by more legitimate means not long afterwards before keeping out further efforts from Giggs and Saha to keep the score respectable.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Fulham|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||2|
|5||Shots off Target||10|