Manchester United extended their lead at the top of the English Premier League to 10 points with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Fulham.Despite Wayne Rooney being banned for his foul-mouthed rant at West Ham last week, there was no stopping the Red Devils as they secured their 15th win in 16 league games at their Old Trafford home.
Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia scored first-half goals as United moved further clear of nearest rivals Arsenal, although the Gunners have two games in hand.
Former United favourite Mark Hughes brought his Fulham side to Old Trafford knowing that they are practically safe from relegation and was intent on testing his old side rather than sitting back.
The Cottagers started brightly with Tomasz Kuszczak called into action twice in the opening five minutes when Bobby Zamora and then Moussa Dembele cut in from the right flank to hit low drives that had the Polish goalkeeper at full stretch.
United took the lead in controversial circumstances in the 12th minute when Nani waltzed past three defenders and fed Anderson, who released Berbatov standing in an offside position.
But the Bulgarian made no mistake from his good fortune clipping his shot into the corner of the net on the angle.
United should have doubled their lead five minutes later when Berbatov skipped past two Fulham players and squared for Anderson, who, with time and space, inexplicably missed the target.
United’s second finally came on the half-hour mark, when Nani beat Mark Schwarzer to Patrice Evra’s long ball, cut inside and when his chipped effort was headed off the line by Chris Baird, Valencia followed up to nod home from close range.
The hosts were slow out of the blocks after the restart, and were given a wake-up call when substitute Eidur Gudjohnsen hit a blistering strike from 20 yards that curled inches wide of the post.
Anderson and Darron Gibson both worked good positions for the home side but shot tamely at Schwarzer.
Baird, well beaten by Nani for long periods, almost pulled a goal back on a rare foray forward when he was picked out in the box by Zamora but his volley dipped over the bar.
Berbatov and John O’Shea tried their luck from long range as United cruised to the final whistle.