Manchester United dominated after Berbatov (right) put his side ahead
By Paul Fletcher
Manchester United opened up a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League as they brushed aside Fulham.
The recalled Dimitar Berbatov opened the scoring with a first-time finish after Nani played him in.
Aaron Hughes then cleared a Nani cross into the path of Antonio Valencia, who headed home United's second.
Tomasz Kuszczak made a superb save from Fulham substitute Eidur Gudjohnsen after the break, while Mark Schwarzer stopped a strike from Darron Gibson.
Overall, it was a very comfortable afternoon for United, who dominated the opening half and had all but secured victory by the break.
Sir Alex Ferguson, still serving a touchline ban, watched from the stands but it was not a perfect afternoon for the United manager as What A Friend, his horse in the Grand National, pulled up with two fences left to jump.
We expected more - Phelan
There were no such problems at Old Trafford, as Ferguson's team built a healthy lead and never looked like being caught.
United have dropped only two points at home in the league this season and despite eight changes from the team that defeated Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday, they looked dangerous and purposeful against a Fulham side that defeated Blackpool 3-0 last weekend.
Nani was particularly effective on the right for the home side, with the Portugal international catching the eye with his pace and direct running.
However, United's advantage at the top of the table will be reduced to seven points if Arsenal, who have two games in hand, defeat Blackpool on Sunday.
Fulham actually made an extremely bright start to the match, with Kuszczak saving long-range strikes from Gael Kakuta and Moussa Dembele, while Bobby Zamora fired wastefully over after a deflection off Paul Scholes gave him a decent sight of goal.
Nani had a shot deflected wide early in the contest and he was heavily involved in his team's opening goal after 12 minutes.
At the end of a mazy, slaloming run that included an exchange of passes with Anderson, Nani slipped the ball through to Berbatov for the Bulgarian to slot home his 22nd goal of the campaign.
It was a composed first-time finish from Berbatov but there was a definite suspicion of offside when he collected the ball.
United took control after scoring and the remainder of the game had the feel of a testimonial fixture as the home team showcased their extensive repertoire of skills.
Anderson should have finished a sweeping move but dragged his shot horribly wide from 16 yards while Nani could not quite deflect a header from Chris Smalling towards goal.
However, Nani was again heavily involved as United scored their second, rampaging down the right and eluding Schwarzer, who had charged rashly out from his goal, before the winger shot from a tight angle.
Nani's effort was partially cleared by Aaron Hughes but the ball deflected to Valencia, who had the simplest of finishes.
It could so easily have been three before the break but Hughes cut out a square ball across goal with several team-mates queuing up to slot home.
Man Utd are champions elect - Hughes
United were not quite as dominant after the interval but, nonetheless, Anderson drew a decent save from Schwarzer after Brede Hangeland squandered possession in his own half.
Fulham threatened through substitute Gudjohnsen, who drew a superb fingertip save from Kuszczak with a curling 25-yard strike that went unnoticed by referee Mike Jones, while Zamora was inches away with a free-kick.
Right-back Chris Baird also had a decent opportunity but he shot over at the far post.
But the majority of traffic continued to head towards the Fulham goal, with Darron Gibson attempting to pick his spot from 18 yards but failing to get sufficient power on his strike, while Scholes shot over from a similar distance.
54:52 Effort on goal by Dimitar Berbatov from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
51:42 Dickson Etuhu gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Oliveira Anderson. Paul Scholes takes the free kick.
48:39 Effort from just outside the area by Darron Gibson goes over the target.
48:06 Short corner taken by Luis Nani from the left by-line.
47:48 Luis Nani takes a short corner.
47:36 Oliveira Anderson takes a shot. Mark Schwarzer makes a save.
45:01 The match restarts for the second half.
45:00+1:13 The whistle is blown to end the first half.
45:00+0:40 Chris Smalling challenges Bobby Zamora unfairly and gives away a free kick. Danny Murphy crosses the ball from the free kick
right-footed from left channel, Patrice Evra manages to make a clearance.
44:43 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Antonio Valencia from the right by-line.
43:04 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Danny Murphy by Luis Nani. Aaron Hughes restarts play with the free kick.
40:53 Free kick awarded for a foul by Dimitar Berbatov on Brede Hangeland. Mark Schwarzer takes the free kick.
38:10 Free kick awarded for a foul by Chris Smalling on Bobby Zamora. Danny Murphy takes the free kick.
34:31 Clint Dempsey takes a shot. Nemanja Vidic gets a block in.
33:06 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Clint Dempsey by Oliveira Anderson. Dickson Etuhu takes the direct free kick.
31:03 Luis Nani provided the assist for the goal.
31:03 GOAL - Antonio Valencia:Man Utd 2 - 0 Fulham Antonio Valencia scores a headed goal from close range. Man Utd 2-0 Fulham.
31:01 Luis Nani takes a shot. Blocked by Aaron Hughes.
30:02 Patrice Evra produces a cross.
29:32 Danny Murphy gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Dimitar Berbatov. Dimitar Berbatov takes the direct free kick.
29:10 Dimitar Berbatov is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Aaron Hughes.
27:29 Corner taken right-footed by Antonio Valencia.
26:46 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani from the left by-line, Chris Smalling takes a shot. Blocked by Brede Hangeland.
24:37 Corner from right by-line taken by Darron Gibson.
24:23 Antonio Valencia takes a shot. Blocked by Brede Hangeland.
23:40 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Clint Dempsey by Paul Scholes. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Danny
Murphy, clearance made by Dimitar Berbatov.
22:32 Clint Dempsey produces a right-footed shot from long range which goes wide right of the goal.
22:07 Antonio Valencia is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Carlos Salcido.
20:31 Carlos Salcido sends in a cross, save by Tomasz Kuszczak.
18:52 Effort on goal by Oliveira Anderson from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.
17:53 Gael Kakuta produces a cross.
15:12 The ball is crossed by Antonio Valencia, save by Mark Schwarzer.
11:03 The assist for the goal came from Luis Nani.
11:03 GOAL - Dimitar Berbatov:Man Utd 1 - 0 Fulham Goal scored by Dimitar Berbatov from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man Utd 1-0 Fulham.
10:29 The ball is swung over by Carlos Salcido, blocked by John O'Shea.
9:48 Free kick awarded for a foul by Antonio Valencia on Carlos Salcido. Free kick taken by Carlos Salcido.
7:53 Bobby Zamora has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.
5:48 Gael Kakuta takes a inswinging corner.
5:36 Moussa Dembele takes a shot. Save made by Tomasz Kuszczak.
4:43 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Antonio Valencia from the right by-line to the near post, Nemanja Vidic takes a shot.
Blocked by Bobby Zamora.
3:52 Antonio Valencia takes a outswinging corner to the near post, Danny Murphy makes a clearance.
3:41 Luis Nani takes a shot. Chris Baird gets a block in.
0:39 Gael Kakuta takes a shot. Tomasz Kuszczak makes a save.
0:00 The game kicks-off.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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