Fulham 3 United 0
MANCHESTER United's title hopes were dented after a comprehensive defeat at Fulham. Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff were all on target for the home side as the Reds' patched up defence finally crumbled. Lacking in imagination and confidence, United's crippling injury list has clearly caught up with them as they missed the chance to draw level with Chelsea at the top of the table and suffered a fifth loss of the season. Nemanja Vidic's failure to recover from a calf strain forced Sir Alex Ferguson to once again field a makeshift defence, which was repeatedly exposed by Fulham. With Jonny Evans, John O'Shea, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown in the treatment room, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Ritchie De Laet were asked to form a flimsy three-man rearguard. Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen started in attack but the latter was anonymous and even when Dimitar Berbatov stepped off the bench in the second half they were toothless. The result has strengthened Fulham's reputation as the scourge of the big four - earnt last season - and registered their second successive victory against United. In March they beat Sir Alex Ferguson's side for the first time in 45 years by the same scoreline but this triumph was more comprehensive in every aspect. As early as the 17th minute Fulham looked capable of emulating last season's heroics against the Red Devils thanks to a wonderful move started by Clint Dempsey. The American floated in a long pass to Zamora who expertly chested the ball down into the path of Zoltan Gera but the Hungarian directed his shot too close to goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak when he had the goal at his mercy. Zamora threat Duff should have produced a better conclusion to one run into the box but Fulham only had to wait until the 22nd minute to storm into the lead when they capitalised on an error by Scholes. Fletcher passed to Scholes but the former England midfielder was too slow in reacting, allowing Murphy to snatch the ball from his feet and fire a 30-yard effort into the net. Zamora should have made it 2-0 but nodded Gera's precision cross wide from six yards out after doing the hard work in outjumping Fletcher. Quick thinking from Evra and Rooney created a half-chance for Anderson but Fulham reacted so rapidly to the threat that by the time he pulled the trigger he was blocked by a wall of white shirts. United's problems deepened a minute into the second half when their patched-up defence was unpicked once more as Fulham extended their lead. Duff supplied the cross to the far post where Dempsey was able to deflect the ball into the path of Zamora who rifled home from close range. In desperate need of inspiration, a lacklustre United brought on Berbatov for Gibson and switched to a three-pronged strike force. Needing a third goal to kill-off United, who were showing tentative signs of a fightback, Duff obliged in the 75th minute. The visitors failed to clear their lines, allowing the impressive Zamora to set-up Duff who smashed the ball home from 15 yards out. Delirious Fulham fans chanted we want four, we want four and Zamora would have given it to them had Kuszczak not made a superb late save. What is your verdict on the game? Have your say.
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