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United rallies to down Toon

MANCHESTER United already has one hand on the Premier League title and the League Cup tucked in the bag and on Saturday the red juggernaut rolls up at Fulham's Craven Cottage on track for the FA Cup.

The sixth-round tie comes in the middle of a hectic period for Alex Ferguson's side, which beat Newcastle United 2-1 on Wednesday to retain its seven-point lead in the title race, but the thought of scooping all five competitions it entered this season will be driving them on.

As well as the League Cup, which it won on penalties against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, United has also captured FIFA's Club World Cup and is well-placed to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League after drawing 0-0 with Inter Milan in the San Siro.

United may rest some of its key players on Saturday as Ferguson juggles his squad for the clash with Inter. That could mean another start for keeper Ben Foster and midfielder Darron Gibson, who impressed against Spurs.

On Wednesday, United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar's record run of Premier League clean sheets ended when Newcastle's Peter Lovenkrands became the first person to score past him in more than 21 hours.

Van der Sar made an uncharacteristic error after just nine minutes to allow Lovenkrands a tap-in but it did not prove too costly as goals from Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov sealed a 2-1 victory that restored United's seven-point lead.

"Edwin van der Sar himself said he made a mess of it," Ferguson said.

"He would rather not have (seen his sequence broken) in such an important game away from home but it was going to happen some time."

United's 11th consecutive league victory took it to 65 points from 27 games. Chelsea and Liverpool, which has both played a game more, are both back on 58 with time running out.

Fourth-placed Aston Villa's Champions League ambitions were dealt a blow with a 0-2 loss at Manchester City while Stoke City climbed out of the bottom three with a 2-0 home victory over Bolton Wanderers. West Ham United won 1-0 at Wigan Athletic.

Tottenham Hotspur shook off the disappointment of losing to Manchester United in Sunday's League Cup final with a 4-0 hammering of Middlesbrough to ease its relegation worries.

Fifth-placed Everton drew 0-0 at Blackburn Rovers while Hull City scored late to beat Fulham 1-0 at Craven Cottage to halt their recent slide after a brilliant start to their season.


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