Man Utd close in on EPL leaders Arsenal

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Manchester United's plans for a fourth consecutive English Premiership title are firmly back on track after a 3-2 win in London over Fulham on Sunday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Manchester United's plans for a fourth consecutive English Premiership title are firmly back on track after a 3-2 win in London over Fulham on Sunday. First half goals from Ryan Giggs and Ruud Van Nistelrooy gave United a two-goal lead before Sylvian Legwinski snatched one back for Fulham just before the interval. Giggs restored United's two-goal advantage two minutes after the restart and despite Steve Marlet's 89th minute consolation, United won comfortably and now lie in fifth place just three points behind leaders Arsenal. Fulham, meanwhile, languish in mid-table. After giving Manchester United such a scare at Old Trafford before losing 3-2 on the first day of the season, Jean Tigana's Fulham were hoping to do better as they entertained the Reds at Craven Cottage for the first time in the League since 1974. Fulham could have been in front as early as in the fifth minute. French striker Louis Saha unlucky to see his shot cannon back off the crossbar from a corner. But seconds later, instead of United keeper Fabien Barthez stealing the headlines with his often erratic displays, it was Edwin van der Sar at the other end who gifted the visitors the lead, Ryan Giggs accepting an open goal with ease. In an open first half that could have seen a hatful of goals, Van der Sar made partial amends 11 minutes later in denying United's Dutch striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and Fulham struck the bar again through Barry Hales almost immediately afterwards, Steed Malbranque's follow up shot spectacularly turned over by Barthez. Fulham had cause to rue their luck with the half drawing to a close, as Giggs and Van Nistelrooy combined brilliantly for the Dutchman to score his 18th goal of the season - and his ninth in the last six games as United took a two-goal lead. Remarkably, there was still time for David Beckham to be booked moments later for a foul on Malbranque and from the resultant free kick, Sylvian Legwinski stole in to head past Barthez and Fulham went into the break just one goal in arrears. It was a short-lived reprieve, however, as two minutes after the restart, a long clearance from Barthez was adroitly headed down by Van Nistelrooy and van der Sar was surprised by the ferocity of Giggs' shot as it sped past him into the net. United were able to sit back and absorb Fulham's largely toothless attacks thereafter and despite substitute Steve Marlet's 89th minute consolation following a great run from Rufus Brevett, United won comfortably. The final whistle came from referee Dermot Gallagher and Sir Alex Ferguson could celebrate United's fifth win in a row - a nice present for his 60th birthday on Monday as United closed to within three points of Premiership leaders Arsenal.

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