Rooney relief as United see off Hull

HULL: Wayne Rooney said he feared the worst after his error threatened to cost Manchester United victory at Hull City here on Sunday.The champions’ 3-1 win at KC Stadium allowed Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to close to within two points of Premier League leaders Chelsea after a match of mixed emotions for Rooney.

NATURAL WINNER: Rooney celebrates his second goal against Hull City during the match at the KC Stadium in Hull - AFP photo

NATURAL WINNER: Rooney celebrates his second goal against Hull City during the match at the KC Stadium in Hull - AFP photo

He put United in front on the stroke of half-time only for his poor back-pass to play a key role in the lead-up to the penalty that saw Craig Fagan draw Hull level on the hour mark. But the crestfallen England striker redoubled his efforts and it was from Rooney’s fine cross that Hull’s Andy Dawson put through his own net in the 73rd minute.

Former Everton forward Rooney then set up strike partner Dimitar Berbatov in sublime style for United’s third goal eight minutes from time.

“Obviously when they got the equaliser it was a mistake by myself and thankfully we got the win, or I don’t think the manager would have been too pleased with me,” Rooney told Sky Sports. “It wasn’t a nice feeling, I didn’t want to let the lads down and at the time it looked like that but it happens and we got the win in the end.”

As for what this win meant to the title race, Rooney added: “I think it’s a mad league, a lot of teams are dropping points and it’s really close.

“Hopefully, we can be more consistent in the second half (of the season) and retain our title.”

Ferguson said Rooney’s response to Hull’s equaliser was no surprise.

“He made a mistake but he was exceptional today. He’s got that (desire), it’s in-born, he’ll never lose that,” Ferguson explained.

“He’s a natural winner. He’s always had a great attitude and determination to do well. He would have been more sickened than anybody by the mistake. But he rectified it in a nice way.”

Ferguson added: “The great thing for us is that we got our two centre-backs (Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown) back, two of the five defenders that were injured and they were terrific.”

Asked to assess the title race, Ferguson said: “It’s looking like it’s going to be a real tight league.

“I think experience will come into it in the run-in. Arsenal, Chelsea and ourselves have got that experience and the team that stays clear of injuries will have an advantage.

“If you make mistakes in this league you are going to get punished so whichever team eradicates those mistakes will have a great chance.”

Defeat left Hull second bottom but Tigers manager Phil Brown took heart from this performance ahead of today’s match against relegation rivals Bolton.

“It was a good game of football, but the credit we get is down to the performance and not the result,” Brown said.

“We’ve got to put that kind of performance in against the teams around us and it’s only two days away.” — AFP

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