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Fulham 0 Manchester United 4: Bid for five is alive say the Old Trafford powerhouses

09 March 2009 12:43
Sir Alex Ferguson made his third substitution with 26 minutes to play, leaving Carlos Tevez in little doubt that his two goals were highly unlikely to earn him a start against Inter Milan.Tevez, hands on hips, watched Wayne Rooney depart and was joined up front by Danny Welbeck, who duly denied him the chance of a hat-trick by opting to shoot from 25 yards instead of passing to put his partner in on goal. Rooney, not long back from a hamstring injury, was needed for Wednesday, explained Ferguson later and it was hard not to sympathise with Tevez.

Great stand-in: Carlos Tevez scores his second goal of United's FA Cup clash with Fulham

'Fergie, sign him up,' sang the United supporters but the littleArgentine remains uncertain of his future beyond this season. It wasleft to his closest friends in the team, defender Patrice Evra andmidfielder Ji-sung Park, to massage his spirits. 'He always gives 100 per cent and showed his ability with his goals,they were brilliant goals and for the team that is very important,'said Park, scorer of United's fourth.  Fergie in a sweat after Ferdinand limps out of Fulham clash with ankle injury

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Evra said: 'I am happy for Carlos because it is not easy for him. Hedoes not play every game but when the boss puts him on the pitch he isa different class, an unbelievable player. Now, against Inter, the bosshas a problem to pick the team.' Ferguson agreed with Evra's sentiment. 'My biggest concern is picking the right team,' said the manager. Rio Ferdinand is struggling for the Inter game after leaving CravenCottage with a twisted ankle in a protective boot, but Jonny Evans isfast maturing into an able deputy.

Injury worry: Rio Ferdinand clashes with Bobby Zamora before the England defender went off with an ankle injury

Even with the prospect of no Ferdinand, no Tevez and the Jose Mourinhofactor in play, it still takes a brave punt to back the Italians whenUnited have perhaps the finest collection of footballers ever assembledat one English club at one time. Fulham boss Roy Hodgson agreed he hasnever seen better.'I'm leaving out great players all the time,' said Ferguson. 'I hope,by the end of the year, we all recognise that everyone has made a greatcontribution.' So far, the squad rotation has been performed masterfully. United havelost only once in 30 games in all competitions and that was the firstleg of the Carling Cup semi-final at Derby, a trophy they eventuallywon. Dimitar Berbatov, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes werenot needed here as United marked the first of three important games ineight days by cruising into a record 26th FA Cup semi-final.Tevez opened the scoring with a simple header at the back post, thensmashed in a second from distance before the break. Rooney made it 3-0with a low curler and Park completed the rout nine minutes from time,taking advantage of an awful pass from Fulham substitute Zoltan Gera.

In on the act: Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung celebrates his goal

'It was a terrific performance,' said Evra. 'We respected Fulham and westarted with the spirit that this game was more important than the gameon Wednesday against Inter. Everyone was hungry to win. This is why weplayed very well. When you pull on the Manchester United shirt, youhave to give your best. That is the spirit of Manchester United andwith that we can go far and reach the end of our mission.' One step closer to the unthinkable five. United's players insist thereis no talk inside the camp of a clean sweep of trophies but confidenceis so high that they expect to win every game. After Inter, it is Liverpool at Old Trafford in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday. 'We feel we can win all five,' said Park. 'We know everybody is talkingabout that and we are not. What we are doing is the only thing we cando which is to concentrate on each and every single game, just one ata time. 'We know how easy it is to make mistakes and go out of competitions,like in the FA Cup against Portsmouth last season. We won't make thosemistakes again. We have a stronger squad now and we are moreconcentrated on each game. Everybody is fresh to play and it won'thappen again.'

Smiles all round: Rooney celebrates with Anderson, Tevez and Park after his goal helped booked United a place in the FA Cup semi-final

The Fulham romp was the perfect loosener for the Inter test. Mourinhohas problems at the back after centre halves Marco Materazzi andNicolas Burdisso limped out of Saturday's 2-0 win in Genoa but his teamare capable of wrecking United's dream. Mourinho, under pressure to end Inter's 44-year wait for anotherEuropean Cup, has lost only once in 13 competitive games againstFerguson and an away goal at Old Trafford will put his team in controlafter a goalless first leg. 'For Inter, the Champions League has really been a priority,' saidFulham manager Hodgson, formerly in charge at Inter and who almostreturned to the club as a senior adviser to president Massimo Morattibefore accepting the job at Craven Cottage.

Mid-table: Fulham manager Roy Hodgson was impressed by United and honest about his own team

'I have kept out of any conversations with my friends at Inter whilethey're playing Manchester United because I've got friends at United aswell. As far as I'm concerned, those friends can get on and playagainst each other and I'll speak to them after. 'I think United will start as favourites, as they always are when theyplay at Old Trafford, but you are talking about two teams on the samelevel. 'We're a middle-of-the-table team playing against the champions ofEngland and a team seven points clear at the top. Unfortunately, Idon't think we're on a level playing field. They have a bit too much intheir locker. 'The quality of their technique is quite fantastic, their movement isvery good and when they get into the lead, you know they've gonegoodness knows how many games without conceding a goal and it's verydifficult to get back. They know how to defend those leads.' Having conceded seven goals to United without reply in recent weeks,Hodgson will be relieved to see Ferguson's side move on to Europe, butthey will be back at Fulham in the Premier League a week on Saturday —and Tevez will probably be fresh. FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer 5; Pantsil 5, Hughes 6, Hangeland 5,Konchesky 5; Davies 6, Etuhu 6, Murphy 6 (Dacourt 57min, 5), Dempsey 5;Zamora 5 (Gera 67, 4), Johnson 6 (Kamara 60, 5). Booked: Pantsil, Dacourt. MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2): Van der Sar 6; O'Shea 6 (Eckersley 52, 6),Ferdinand 6 (Evans 46, 7), Vidic 7, Evra 7; Fletcher 6, Anderson 7,Carrick 7, Park 7; Rooney 8 (Welbeck 64, 6), Tevez 8. Man of the match: Carlos Tevez.Referee: Mike Dean.

 Fergie in a sweat after Ferdinand limps out of Fulham clash with ankle injury

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VIDEO SPECIAL: Finishing school - Sportsmail celebrates 10 sublime strikes

Mourinho hits out at 'embarrassing' Chelsea as United run away with the title

United veteran Scholes draws on Treble memories for European glory bid





 

Source: Daily_Mail