Premier League – Manchester United United beat Hull City to go second

Manchester United closed the gap on leaders Chelsea to two points after a 3-1 Premier League win over plucky Hull City at the KC Stadium.

Strikes from Wayne Rooney (pictured) and Dimitar Berbatov sandwiched an Andy Dawson own-goal, with Craig Fagan on target from the spot for the Tigers and Rooney involved in all four goals.

But the scoreline did not tell the full story as United flattered to deceive while Hull failed to get the rub of the green from referee Alan Wiley.

United were given a battle by the hosts but shaded the first half and took the lead deep into injury time when Rooney finished a Darren Fletcher cross after a good spell of pressure from the visitors.

Hull felt aggrieved to go in behind at half-time as, along with matching their guests, they were denied a penalty when Wiley understandably failed to see Wes Brown‘s foul on Richard Garcia, understandably as it appeared from most angles that the United defender got the ball.

In between there were chances galore for both sides.

On 17 minutes Ryan Giggs curled a free-kick into the side netting, while Bernard Mendy denied Rooney with an excellent block two minutes later.

Midway through the first half came Hull’s penalty claim when Stephen Hunt dispossessed Luis Valencia and slid a superb ball into Garcia, who Brown raced across to meet.

It seemed a perfectly-timed tackle, but replays from one angle showed that the ball – which spun away to the left, giving the impression Brown had won it – actually moved due to Garcia’s touch, with Brown sliding into his ankle.

Otherwise, Tomasz Kuszczak saved well from George Boateng while Hunt drilled wide of the far post after Seyi Olofinjana put him through on the left.

Boaz Myhill was similarly busy in the home goal, tipping over from Rooney and saving superbly from Rafael Da Silva, while Dimitar Berbatov fired into the side netting after released on the right by Valencia.

Last season’s champions turned on the pressure in the closing stages of the half and, as Fletcher kept in a lost cause on the right, his low cross was missed by Ryan Giggs and dropped to Rooney, who made no mistake from close range.

The opening period of the second half was a grind, as Hull worked hard to peg back United.

They got their break just before the hour mark after an uncharacteristic error from Rooney. The England striker’s misplaced pass allowed Fagan to race into the box and, forced wide by Kuszczak, the former Derby forward lofted over a far-post cross.

Jozy Altidore flew in to meet it but was shoved in the back by Rafael, who was booked for the challenge: Fagan stepped up and coolly sent the ball to the right of the Polish keeper to level.

Michael Carrick had a low drive tipped away by Myhill, while Garcia headed wide from a Hunt corner.

United edged ahead though, and there was an air of fortune to complement a superb counter attack that culminated in Rooney’s driven cross being knocked in by Dawson, who had to make a challenge with Park Ji-Sung free at the far post.

Rooney recovered brilliantly from his error to dominate the late stages of the game and again got an assist as he latched on to Nemanja Vidic‘s defensive header and, after he drew the Hull defence wide, played a cute ball that the unmarked Berbatov tapped home.

Mendy almost pulled one back for the Tigers but put inches wide after a clever backheel from substitute Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, while Rooney fired just over after latching on to Fletcher’s through-ball.

Hull stay second bottom while United return to second, closing in on Chelsea after they were held to a draw by Birmingham City.

Reda Maher / Eurosport

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