LONDON: Ruud van Nistelrooy scored twice as Manchester United edged Fulham 2-1 to reach the English FA Cup semi-finals yesterday.
Van Nistelrooy scored once in either half to keep United on track for their 11th FA Cup title and their first since 1999.
Fulham took the lead with a 23rd minute penalty, awarded when Luis Boa Morte was tackled by United defender Wes Brown.
Steed Malbranque converted, firing the ball into the top inside of the net as United's goalkeeper Tim Howard leapt the other way.
United levelled two minutes later with Van Nistelrooy's 25th goal of the season. The Dutchman volleyed the ball into the net from a Ryan Giggs cross.
Van Nistelrooy scored past his international teammate Edwin Van Der Sar again in the 62nd minute. Cristiano Ronaldo ran down the right and crossed for an advancing Van Nistelrooy to chip home.
He could have scored a lot of goals today, our attacking display was great,'' United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said. He could have scored four and that's what you expect of Ruud.''
United fielded a new look defence. With Gary Neville suspended and Quinton Fortune injured, captain Roy Keane was named at the back.
Howard, Giggs and Van Nistelrooy returned to the team after being rested for the 1-1 league draw at Fulham last weekend. Fulham defeated United 3-1 at Old Trafford in the league last October.
Sometimes managers and players disagree about needing a rest because I always want to play,'' Van Nistelrooy said. Deep down I probably agree with him (Ferguson) but it's not nice to be rested.''
Fulham manager Chris Coleman was forced to watch the match from his hospital bed where he is recovering from a viral infection.
We gave it everything,'' Fulham assistant manager Steve Kean said. Our attitude was spot-on, we tried to attack and on another day we might have got a draw, but I'm satisfied with the performance.'' AP