Rooney lifts United past battling Hull

Updated: 28 December 2009 16:09 IST

Manchester United beat Hull City 3-1 to move 2 points behind League leaders Chelsea.

Hull :

Wayne Rooney scored one goal and was involved in three more during Manchester United's 3-1 win away to Hull here on Sunday that moved them to within two points of Premier League leaders Chelsea.

The England striker pounced on the stroke of half-time with a close range finish to notch his 14th goal of the season and sixth in as many games.

But Sir Alex Ferguson's reigning English champions were pushed all the way at the KC Stadium by a brave Hull team, who equalised through Craig Fagan's penalty on the hour mark after Rafael da Silva fouled Jozy Altidore.

An upset looked on the cards until United decided to step-up a gear and take the game away from Hull.

Rooney's cross forced an own goal from Andy Dawson in the 73rd minute to restore United's advantage before his sublime pass allowed Dimitar Berbatov to make it 3-1 with eight minutes remaining.

Second bottom Hull made three changes after last week's defeat at Arsenal.

Tigers Phil Brown dropped Paul McShane, the Republic of Ireland defender, and recalled Bernard Mendy in his place.

Brazilian playmaker Geovanni was also left out while Nick Barmby was sidelined with a calf injury. In came Seyi Olofinjana for his aggressive qualities in midfield and Altidore was also recalled in attack.

Ferguson, meanwhile, was given a belated Christmas present as he welcomed back from injury three defenders in Wes Brown, Nemanja Vidic and da Silva.

United, who'd lost two of their three previous league matches, almost made the perfect start inside the first six minutes when Antonio Valencia showed a clean pair of heels to Dawson and crossed for the unmarked Ryan Giggs at the back post.

But Giggs's spectacular volley whistled just over the crossbar.

Moments later Rooney struck a powerful centre across Boaz Myhill's goal before releasing Berbatov with a sublime pass only for the Bulgarian to be denied by the on-rushing Hull keeper.

Giggs was the next to threaten in the 16th minute but his free-kick was a whisker the wrong side of Myhill's left post and Hull continued to survive. No-one personified Hull's stubbornness more than Mendy, who flung himself at Rooney moments later to somehow block the England forward's goalbound drive after Darren Fletcher's initial drive had deflected kindly into his path.

Hull began to grow in confidence with Olofinjana forcing a smart save from Tomasz Kuszczak in the 21st minute and Stephen Hunt seeing an angled drive go inches wide of the far post.

But United continued to press, with Myhill producing fine saves to deny Rooney and then da Silva, only to see the stalemate broken on the stroke of half-time when Rooney pounced on Fletcher's cross to fire United ahead.

Yet just as everyone expected United to canter out of sight Hull refused to buckle and found a way back into the contest just before the hour mark courtesy of some woeful defending from United.

Rooney gave the ball away to Fagan, who rounded Kuszczak and crossed to the back post, where da Silva felled Altidore to concede the penalty.

Fagan made no mistake to level the scores and Richard Garcia could have headed Hull in front in the 66th minute but the Australian's glancing header went just wide.

Soon afterwards United were ahead again when Dawson turned Rooney's cross into his own net.

Berbatov then put the result beyond doubt with a simple finish after Rooney had the vision and skill to pick him out at the far post.

Topics : Football Wayne Rooney Chelsea Arsenal Alex Ferguson Manchester United
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