(CNN) -- On-fire England striker Wayne Rooney scored two more goals as Manchester United beat Fulham 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday to return to the top of the English Premier League table.
Rooney's double strike, taking his tally for the season to a remarkable 32 goals in all competitions, helped United go two points ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal at the top of the table. However, the defending champions have played a game more than Chelsea.
United missed a host of chances in a goalless opening 45 minutes, but Rooney put that right just 30 seconds after the restart, finding space in the Fulham penalty area to stroke home Nani's low cross from the left.
Rooney doubled his and United's tally with seven minutes remaining when strike partner Dimitar Berbatov did well to beat two defenders on the right before cutting the ball back for him to find the net.
Berbatov had endured a frustrating day in front of goal, but he finally got his name on the scoresheet with a late third, heading in from close range after a pinpoint Ji-sung Park cross.
Meanwhile, Manchester City lost ground in the race for the fourth and final champions League place after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Sunderland.
Sunderland, who ended a long run without a win with a 4-0 victory over Bolton in midweek, took an early lead when Steed Malbranque's left-wing cross was powerfully headed home by Kenwyne Jones.
City piled forward in search of an equalizing goal, but they had to wait until the dying minutes to level the scores when Sunderland-born substitute Adam Johnson curled in a superb strike, after home goalkeeper Craig Gordon had made a string of fine saves to deny the visitors.
The result leaves City in fifth place in the table, two points behind Tottenham but with a vital game in hand.