[Premier League] Fulham 1-3 Manchester United
Fulham: Alexander Kacaniklic (65)
MaUtd: Antonio Valencia (9), Robin van Persie (20), Wayne Rooney (22)
A scintillating first-half attacking display was enough to seal a deserved 3-1 victory for Manchester United over Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The hosts couldn't cope as the Reds romped into a 3-0 lead after 22 minutes with goals from Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
The scoring began in the ninth minute thanks to some excellent build-up play. Van Persie produced an excellent turn and threaded pass to put Rooney clear and although the latter could have fired towards goal, he opted to wait and set up Valencia to side-foot home.
After former United striker Dimitar Berbatov had nearly got in behind the Reds’ defence, almost immediately David Moyes’ men went up the other end to double the advantage on 20 minutes. Adnan Januzaj dispossessed Scott Parker in midfield before putting van Persie through to smash into the roof of the net. Two minutes later van Persie turned provider. An excellent Tom Cleverley pass sent the striker free down the right and he advanced into the area before sending an inch-perfect cross to Rooney who couldn’t miss.
After injuries had forced Moyes into making a triple substitution at the break – Marouane Fellaini, Shinji Kagawa and Chris Smalling replaced Cleverley, Rafael and Jonny Evans – Fulham gave themselves a lifeline on 65 minutes when substitute Alexander Kacaniklic's effort was deflected past David De Gea by Rooney’s outstretched boot. Although Darren Bent headed on to bar late on, the Reds deservedly came away with three points.
The Match It was a deserved and relatively straightforward win for the Reds thanks to some superb attacking play in the opening period. Antonio Valencia opened the scoring on nine minutes, but it was all about the link-up play between Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney to create the goal. The strike duo got in on the goal action themselves soon after with van Persie blasting home and Rooney converting the Dutchman’s pinpoint cross. Fulham grabbed a consolation in the second half, but the Reds were worthy winners.
Goals All three of United’s strikes were quality goals and van Persie was involved in every one of them. After slipping Rooney clear to set up Valencia for the first, he smashed home the second from a superb Januzaj pass, before supplying the cross for Rooney to net the Reds’ third. Rooney was also credited by some with a goal at the other end too after he deflected Kacaniklic’s shot past De Gea.
Star men It was an excellent team performance from the Reds, but it’s fair to say the attacking trio of Rooney, van Persie and Januzaj caught the eye. United captain Nemanja Vidic marshalled the defence brilliantly and was in imperious form throughout.
Sub-plot David Moyes had labelled his strike duo of Rooney and van Persie a match for anyone in the lead-up to the game and on this form no-one could argue with the United boss. The pair linked up brilliantly and looked sharp throughout. Moyes will have been delighted to see them both on the scoresheet and equally impressed by their assists as well.
Opposition Fulham had the odd spell of possession and did manage to create a couple of glimpses of goal but, bar a late surge from the Cottagers, United never really looked in too much danger at the back; their goal came courtesy of a lucky deflection. At the other end, Philippe Senderos and Fernando Amorebieta simply couldn’t live with the Reds going at full pelt in attack.
In the stands United’s travelling army are always a rowdy bunch and they didn’t disappoint at Craven Cottage. Around 3,000 fans made the trip to West London and packed into the Putney End, singing throughout the match. The team certainly gave them plenty to shout about.