Red Devils reign in Fulham
Written By: Robert Halter
Manchester United had their second visit to west London in the space of three days for a trip to face Fulham at Craven Cottage in a midweek fixture before Christmas as both the Whites and the Red Devils were without their first choice goalkeepers with David Stockdale in for the injured Mark Schwarzer while Anders Lindegaard replaced David De Gea, who was left on the bench while United’s Chris Smalling returned to face his former club. It was a dream start for Man U, with an opening goal within the first five minutes when Nani broke down the left wing and supplied a cross to Danny Welbeck, who drilled his shot into the bottom right corner. A saving tackle by Phil Jones diverted a Fulham attack on eighteen minutes as Bryan Ruiz advanced on goal but it was to be the last piece of action for Jones as he was replaced by Ashley Young. Midway through the first half, Nani tested Stockdale at his near post but this time the Whites shot stopper had his goal covered. But on twenty seven minutes, Nani had the final say with a well placed header from a Ryan Giggs cross which flew past Wayne Rooney and the helpless Stockdale into the left side of the net to give the Red Devils a two goal advantage. Ten minutes later, Nani was again a threat as he latched onto Antonio Valencia’s cross and tested Stockdale with a low strike. On forty two minutes, Nani again unlocked the Fulham door, as he squared the ball to Giggs, who left Stockdale stranded as he the ball deflected off Philippe Senderos and looped over the Whites goalkeeper into the centre of the net putting United three nil up before the break. The Cottagers started the second half more brightly, when from a Ruiz corner, a glancing header by Clint Dempsey was kept out on the line by Lindegaard, as he was protected by Patrice Evra, in the fifty fifth minute. Fulham continued to rally, first with a low drive by Mousa Dembele which went past the right post and then after Dembele was fouled by Giggs, the Cottagers captain Danny Murphy laid the ball off to John Arne Riise, who steered the ball wide of the target. Nani carved open the Whites defence again on seventy two minutes, and as the flag stayed down, Welbeck spurned the opportunity by chipping the ball over the bar. Six minutes later, it was the Whites turn to miss the target as Dempsey’s pass opened up the United defence but Andrew Johnson blazed the ball over. Another chance went Johnson’s way on eighty three minutes but he fired his effort straight into Lindegaard’s body, after Murphy had put the ball through. A magnificent strike by Rooney continued the rout on eighty seven minutes, with a curling strike from distance that bent around Stockdale, into the right side of the net to add a fourth United goal. A minute later, Johnson forced Lindegaard into a full length save and then missed from inside the box. It only prompted United to add a fifth when Valencia’s cross was back heeled by Dimitar Berbatov past Stockdale, to open up the floodgates as Manchester United strolled to victory at the expense of Fulham.