Red Devils march on

07 March 2009 06:27
Manchester United thrashed Fulham 4-0 to reach the FA Cup semi-finals and keep up their hopes of an unprecedented quintuple. But they suffered an early scare when Nemanja Vidic had to track back to clear Andrew Johnson's effort off the line. Carlos Tevez then gave them the lead in the 20th minute when heading home at the far post after Wayne Rooney had nodded on a corner. Ten minutes later, Rooney hit the post from close range from a Park Ji- Sung cross from the right. But Tevez made no mistake with a great second goal on 35 minutes. The Argentinean collected the ball near the half-way line and went on a mazy run to the edge of the Fulham box where he unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner. Rooney then added the third five minutes after the re-start when he curled an excellent effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. Park scored the fourth - again with a deft finish - nine minutes before the end to complete the rout. United have secured the World Club Cup and the Carling Cup already, are in control in the Premier League and have now reached the last four of the FA Cup for a record 26th time. Their seemingly unstoppable march into the history books continues with their UEFA Champions League clash against Inter Milan at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Victory here came against a Fulham side who were in decent form and confident mood - despite their midweek defeat by Hull - but Roy Hodgson's men simply had no answer to United's relentless attacks. History seemed against the Cottagers as they had not beaten United at home since 1964. That was in the era when George Best was on the flanks for United, with the current equivalent being Cristiano Ronaldo - but boss Sir Alex Ferguson rested the Portugal winger. Ronaldo had trained all week but had been involved in United's recent busy schedule and Ferguson had plenty of options, naming Dimitar Berbatov on the bench and bringing in Anderson and Tevez. United gave the hosts a warning as early as the third minute after Brede Hangeland carelessly gave the ball away. Rooney stabbed the ball to Tevez and his shot was saved at full stretch by Mark Schwarzer, with John Pantsil beating Rooney to the rebound. Fulham may have been ruthlessly exposed by United but it was not one-way traffic, the hosts had a number of meaningful attacks in a fast-paced cup tie. In the 13th minute they showed their attacking threat when Simon Davies lofted a ball over the top. Johnson got his toe on the ball from the edge of the area to wrong-foot Edwin van der Sar, with Vidic required to race back and clear before it trickled over the line. Van der Sar plucked Clint Dempsey's header from under the crossbar then Bobby Zamora, who had provided the cross for the American, fired over from the edge of the area. Fulham's good start was undone in the 20th minute when United took the lead. Anderson's corner was flicked on by Rooney and Tevez steered his header between the post and Paul Konchesky. Rooney had set up the opener and he was trying his hardest to add a second, including a 50-yard effort that went just over the bar. The England striker was unfortunate to be flagged offside when he rounded Schwarzer and tucked the ball home, then he struck the post when Park crossed from the right flank. It was Tevez who added the second with a stunning effort after he picked the ball up near the halfway line, headed towards goal and cut inside before finding the top corner with a fearsome strike in the 35th minute. It could have been different if Fulham had been awarded a penalty when Zamora appeared to have his shirt pulled by John O'Shea, and they also had a chance when Rio Ferdinand blocked bravely after Johnson raced through. Ferdinand was taken off at the break after appearing to pick up a knock but United were three goals ahead within five minutes of the restart. Dickson Etuhu's poor clearance eventually found its way to Rooney, who curled an effort from 20 yards that nestled in the bottom corner. Rooney had second-half tussles with Dempsey and Etuhu that almost boiled over - he was taken off in the 64th minute, ensuring there would be no needless bookings. Tevez shot into the side-netting with his attempt for a hat-trick but it was Park who added the fourth, in the 81st minute, when he latched onto a poor ball from Zoltan Gera before racing into the area and finishing confidently.

Source: SKY_Sports