27/12/2009 17:49, Report by Steve Bartram
Hull 1 United 3
last-ditch challenge from Bernard Mendy to block Rooney's powerful effort after a goalmouth melee, but the hosts hit back with two close calls of their own. Firstly, Brown was fortunate to escape censure for a penalty area challenge on Richard Garcia, before Tomasz Kuszczak was forced into a smart low stop from Seyi Olofinjana's 30-yard effort.
An entertaining game continued apace, end to end. Myhill palmed over Rooney's powerful left-footer, while Kuszczak again had to be alert to turn away a close-range volley from the onrushing Olofinjana. There was even a touch of farce about the next opening, as Myhill sliced a routine clearance so badly, its backspin prevented Giggs from firing off a shot. Although the winger did reach the ball and pull it back into the melee, Hull eventually contrived to clear.
With the game increasingly stretched as both teams surrendered possession by turn, Stephen Hunt sidefooted wastefully off-target when played in by Olofinjana, before Berbatov smashed a shot high into Myhill's side-netting after springing the hosts' offside trap. The Reds' clearest chance of the half, however, surprisingly fell to Rafael.
The Brazilian surged from deep inside his own half and fed Rooney, before continuing his run. When Carrick's subsequent pass dissected the home defence, Rafael unleashed a left-footed shot and only a magnificent left-handed save from Myhill kept the scoresheet blank.
Just when it seemed that the interval would be reached without a goal, the Reds moved ahead. Fletcher rescued an errant Berbatov cross and, as Hunt stood off him, the Scot curled in a superb low cross from the right wing. Although Giggs missed it with an attempted flick, Rooney was on hand to turn it in from close range.
Not that the goal galvanised the Reds for the second half, however. Although in apparent comfort, United were far from safe as the game reached the hour mark, and