|1||Van der Sar|
United may not have always played like champions on Saturday, but the Reds took another step towards a record 19th league title with a comfortable 2-0 win over Fulham at Old Trafford.
Of course, each step at this stage of the season must feel like a giant stride to those teams trailing Sir Alex's men. Matches are running out for the chasing pack to haul in a United side determined to land a historic piece of silverware. the At the final whistle, United (with only six games to play) were 10 points clear of Arsenal, 11 clear of Chelsea and 13 ahead of neighbours Manchester City.
On an Old Trafford pitch bathed in sunshine, the Reds outclassed Fulham and, but for a nervy opening 10 minutes, rarely looked troubled. Even the visitors seemed to take their foot off the gas in the second half and for long periods it felt more like a training game than a competitive fixture. It was as if Fulham, who came into the match having won just once in their 18 previous trips to M16, never seriously believed they'd buck the trend.
That said, the Cottagers did start brightly. Gael Kakuta, on loan from Chelsea, stretched Tomasz Kuszczak within 45 seconds. Moussa Dembele then did the same with barely six minutes on the clock, while Bobby Zamora blasted wide after finding space inside the area.
Perhaps the raft of changes Sir Alex made to his starting XI played its part in United's slow start. With one eye on Tuesday night's Champions League quarter-final second leg, the boss rested eight players who'd started at Stamford Bridge three days earlier. Only Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Antonio Valencia survived.
Around them, there were rare starts for Tomasz Kuszczak and Darron Gibson, while Paul Scholes returned from suspension and John O'Shea and