MX23RW : Saturday, September 22 23:24:24

On this day: Manchester United leave it late at Fulham

Seven years ago today, Cristiano Ronaldo scored two minutes from time to secure all three points for Manchester United at Fulham.

Having seen the majority of his treble-winning squad from 1999 break up, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson started to build another team from 2002 onwards.

The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Edwin van der Sar and Michael Carrick were all recruited, but it was youngsters Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney who were viewed by Ferguson as his side's match-winners.

While Arsenal's 'Invincibles' and Chelsea, under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho, dominated the Premier League for three seasons between 2003 and 2006, Ferguson was being patient with his teenage recruits from Sporting Lisbon and Everton.

It was during the 2006-07 campaign that the duo started to fulfill their potential on a regular basis, which in turn saw United lead Chelsea at the top of the table by six points prior to their trip to Fulham seven years ago today.

The Whites may have been 14th in the table, but they were unbeaten in 10 of their 14 encounters at Craven Cottage and started this match in positive fashion, with Simon Davies, Papa Bouba Diop and Brian McBride all calling United goalkeeper Van der Sar into action.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his late winner for Manchester United at Fulham on February 24, 2007.© Getty Images

The Dutch shot-stopper had not been beaten in his previous three outings, but confusion between him and Vidic in the 17th minute presented an opportunity for McBride and the American frontman took full advantage to give the hosts the lead from a narrow angle.

However, United were level 12 minutes later as Rooney picked out Ryan Giggs with a cross from the left flank towards the back post. The ball arrived at the Welshman at an awkward height, but he was still able to guide a volley beyond the reach of Jan Lastuvka.

The anticipated onslaught from the visitors didn't materialise, though, as Fulham dominated the second half, just as they had done the opening 45 minutes. Van der Sar got down low to tip wide a powerful effort from Davies, while Tomasz Radzinski headed against the crossbar from close range.

Their failure to convert pressure into goals would be punished two minutes from time courtesy of Portuguese international Ronaldo. He collected the ball just inside the Fulham half and proceeded forward as the home defence retreated. After he had reached the penalty area, he drilled a shot into the bottom corner of the net to spark scenes of jubilation among the away supporters and management.

Having seen his side go nine points clear, Ferguson said after the match: "I must say that was the most difficult game we have had all season. I think it is a significant result, particularly scoring late on. Ronaldo just kept going and deserved to get the man of the match."

FULHAM: Lastuvka; Volz, Bocanegra, Christanval, Rosenior; Brown, Diop (Dempsey), Smertin, Davies; Radzinski (John), McBride (Helguson)

MAN UNITED: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic (O'Shea), Evra (Silvestre); Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick (Saha), Giggs; Rooney, Larsson

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Thierry Henry, then of Arsenal, scores the winning goal against Manchester United on January 21, 2007.
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