Ronaldo boosts United’s title charge

Ronaldo boosts United’s title charge

LONDON – Cristiano Ronaldo’s late winner put Manchester United in complete control of the Premiership title race as his side snatched a 2-1 victory at Fulham on Saturday.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are now nine points ahead of second-placed Chelsea after Ronaldo hit his 16th goal of the season with just two minutes remaining at Craven Cottage. United had fallen behind when Brian McBride took advantage of a mix-up between goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and Nemanja Vidic to fire home after 17 minutes.Ryan Giggs equalised in the 29th minute when he volleyed past Jan Lastuvka from Wayne Rooney’s cross.It took until the 88th minute for a below-par United to snatch the winner when Ronaldo’s surging run and shot, which deflected off Philippe Christanval, sparked wild celebrations among Ferguson and his players.Charlton boss Alan Pardew got revenge over West Ham as his side boosted their survival hopes with a 4-0 thrashing of his former club at The Valley.Pardew was sacked by the Hammers in December and replaced by former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley.But a Jerome Thomas double and goals from Darren Ambrose and Darren Bent moved Charlton above relegation rivals West Ham and closed the gap on fourth bottom Wigan to three points.Robbie Fowler scored his first Premiership goals since the opening day of the season as Liverpool consolidated third place with a 4-0 win over Sheffield United at Anfield.Fowler’s last league goal was a penalty against the Blades back in August and he converted two more spot-kicks to sink Neil Warnock’s side at Anfield.The striker opened the scoring in the 20th minute after Robert Kozluk brought down Steven Gerrard as they challenged for a corner.Just five minutes later Liverpool captain Gerrard was fouled again, this time by Nick Montgomery, and Fowler’s penalty sent Paddy Kenny the wrong way to double the lead.Sami Hyypia got the third from Jermaine Pennant’s corner in the 70th minute and Gerrard equalled Liverpool’s biggest win of the season when he drove in Fowler’s pass three minutes later.Australia striker Mark Viduka scored Middlesbrough’s opener and made their second in a 2-1 home win against Reading.Watford missed a chance to climb off the bottom of the table when they were beaten 3-0 by Everton at Vicarage Road.Manuel Fernandes gave Everton the lead in the 23rd minute when he scored from close range after Richard Lee had pushed Tim Cahill’s drive into his path.Andrew Johnson increased Everton’s advantage two minutes later when referee Lee Mason ruled Adrian Mariappa and Jay DeMerit had brought down the striker, who picked himself up to score the penalty.Leon Osman’s superb stoppage time strike put the finishing touch to a clinical Everton display.Nampa-AFPUnited had fallen behind when Brian McBride took advantage of a mix-up between goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and Nemanja Vidic to fire home after 17 minutes.Ryan Giggs equalised in the 29th minute when he volleyed past Jan Lastuvka from Wayne Rooney’s cross.It took until the 88th minute for a below-par United to snatch the winner when Ronaldo’s surging run and shot, which deflected off Philippe Christanval, sparked wild celebrations among Ferguson and his players.Charlton boss Alan Pardew got revenge over West Ham as his side boosted their survival hopes with a 4-0 thrashing of his former club at The Valley.Pardew was sacked by the Hammers in December and replaced by former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley.But a Jerome Thomas double and goals from Darren Ambrose and Darren Bent moved Charlton above relegation rivals West Ham and closed the gap on fourth bottom Wigan to three points.Robbie Fowler scored his first Premiership goals since the opening day of the season as Liverpool consolidated third place with a 4-0 win over Sheffield United at Anfield.Fowler’s last league goal was a penalty against the Blades back in August and he converted two more spot-kicks to sink Neil Warnock’s side at Anfield.The striker opened the scoring in the 20th minute after Robert Kozluk brought down Steven Gerrard as they challenged for a corner.Just five minutes later Liverpool captain Gerrard was fouled again, this time by Nick Montgomery, and Fowler’s penalty sent Paddy Kenny the wrong way to double the lead.Sami Hyypia got the third from Jermaine Pennant’s corner in the 70th minute and Gerrard equalled Liverpool’s biggest win of the season when he drove in Fowler’s pass three minutes later.Australia striker Mark Viduka scored Middlesbrough’s opener and made their second in a 2-1 home win against Reading.Watford missed a chance to climb off the bottom of the table when they were beaten 3-0 by Everton at Vicarage Road.Manuel Fernandes gave Everton the lead in the 23rd minute when he scored from close range after Richard Lee had pushed Tim Cahill’s drive into his path.Andrew Johnson increased Everton’s advantage two minutes later when referee Lee Mason ruled Adrian Mariappa and Jay DeMerit had brought down the striker, who picked himself up to score the penalty.Leon Osman’s superb stoppage time strike put the finishing touch to a clinical Everton display.Nampa-AFP

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