Manchester United pillaged three early goals to sail to a 3-1 victory at Craven Cottage, showing in the first half a clinical edge in front of goal that has been missing since the 4-1 opening day win at Swansea. United raced into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 22 minutes as Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney
struck clinically and ruthlessly to heap pressure on Martin Jol’s tenure as Manager. Match Highlights. Man of the match: Wayne Rooney
. Scored a goal and had a hand in the other two. Rallied his team like a Captain at times in the second half when United looked in danger of losing their competitive edge in tackling and passing to leave Fulham back into it. Great save: David De Gea kept United in the game by calmly collecting a blistering Pajtim Kasami shot in the initial minutes of the game, firmly keeping hold of the ball. Flash point: Sascha Riether's sneaky and deplorable kick and then stamp on a grounded Adnan Januzaj near the corner flag, which had Fellaini and Vidic backing up their young starlet and acting as Peacemakers. Referee obviously did not see it, else Riether would have seen red. Great goal: Robin Van Persie's left foot strike for the second, being the beneficiary of a sublime through ball from Januzaj, before blasting the ball into the roof of the net at the near post, leaving Stekelenburg helpless. Fulham came at United in the second half with a renewed vigour and had United enduring some hairy moments. This was allied to United’s noticeable change in gear from fifth into third. David Moyes was forced into using all three of his subs at half-time, with Evans, Rafael and Cleverly exiting and Smalling, Fellaini and Kagawa introduced. Midway through the second half Alex Kacaniklic's shot reached United’s net via a Rooney deflection, perhaps deserved considering United’s ostensible sit-back-and-relax approach. United did enough to secure a fourth straight win in all competitions, with perhaps one eye on the Champions league mid-week away game to Real Sociedad. Valencia was re-introduced to United’s side by David Moyes and he made an impact in the ninth minute as he applied a great first touch finish to send United into an early lead after Rooney had taken Van Persie’s through-ball, strategically waited to commit a couple of defenders, before a slide-rule pass for the Ecuadorian to finish. Dimitar Berbatov came close to an equaliser when Rafael got a crucial touch to prevent him from finishing off a Scott Parker pass. As when he was with United, he was lively and interested when Fulham had the ball, dis-interested and lethargic when they did not. The Cottagers were struggling defensively in defence and it was 2-0 to United when Adnan Januzaj dispossessed Parker, turned and pressed forward before sliding through for Van Persie. Approaching the six yard box left-centre of goal, the Dutchman slammed a powerful left footed finish past Maarten Stekelenburg into the roof of the net. A third goal quickly ensued as RVP delivered a low cross for Rooney from the left after stranding Sascha Riether, and Rooney’s renewal continued as he turned the ball home. Kieran Richardson had a shot from distance deflected wide and Berbatov forced a decent stop from De Gea after being played in by a nice Bryan Ruiz flick as Fulham tried to find a way back into the match. Uniteds flow was shattered by a spate of treatments as Patrice Evra, Rafael and Tom Cleverley all succumbed to injury. Two of the three then had to bow out at half-time, leaving some doubt over selection for mid-week game with Sociedad. United worryingly, looked bereft of ideas and conviction as the second half wore on, and looked like they were content to ride-out the second half in third gear. Phil Jones also picked up a knock, as he is prone to do, but had to play on and there were further moments of anxiety for United fans as Darren Bent looped a header against the crossbar. Richardson also headed wide from a fluid and crisp Fulham move, while at the other end Van Persie fluffed as his air-kick denied United a fourth. Moyes will be happy with the 3 points, and the momentum that United are building with a fourth straight win. All eyes will now now be on the encounter with Arsenal next weekend as United fans wait with baited breath to see if United’s midfield can conquer a fast-passing and free scoring Gunners at Old Trafford.
Source: United Mad