<—END OF LOAD TAG—>
 
  • Date: Sat 04 February 2006
  • Venue: Old Trafford
  • Ref: Atkinson, M
  • Attendance: 67,844
Manchester United

Manchester United

Ronaldo (14)

Saha (23)

Ronaldo (86)

4 - 2
Fulham

Fulham

McBride (22)

Helguson (37)

Manchester United vs Fulham

Team Lineups

Manchester United

Edwin van der Sar
Mikael Silvestre
Gary Neville (Nemanja Vidic, 69)
Patrice Evra (Phil Bardsley, 81)
Wes Brown
Cristiano Ronaldo
Kieran Richardson
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Louis Saha
Alan Smith
Ji-Sung Park (Wayne Rooney, 69)

Fulham

Antti Niemi
Wayne Bridge
Zat Knight
Liam Rosenior
Carlos Bocanegra
Steed Malbranque
Simon Elliott
Michael Brown (Tomasz Radzinski, 46)
Luis Boa Morte
Heidar Helguson (Collins John, 76)
Brian McBride

Match Report
A game which had everything from brilliant goals to farcical defending ended with Manchester United reducing Chelsea's lead at the top of the Premiership to 12 points. Five of the goals came in a frantic first half which confirmed the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. United, superb in attack and down the flanks, lacked power in midfield. Since Sir Alex Ferguson took his side's January spending to £12.5 million on defenders Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic they have leaked six goals in four days. Evra, who was replaced after 79 minutes had a nightmare game, while Vidic, a replacement for Gary Neville with 21 minutes to go made little impact. Fulham, who are yet to win away in the league this season, were vibrant in midfield and up front, but defensively, were venerable both from pace and in their marking. United opened the scoring from a fortuitous sixth-minute goal. Neville's cross from the right was hit straight back to him by Wayne Bridge. The second cross found Ji-Sung Park and the South Korean scored his first Premiership goal for United with a right-foot shot from 12 yards which took a deflection off Fulham's Carlos Bocanegra on its way past goalkeeper Antti Niemi. United's second goal eight minutes later came from a superb piece of individual skill from Cristiano Ronaldo. Fulham debutant Michael Brown, a £1.75 million signing from Spurs, fouled Louis Saha 30 yards from goal. Ronaldo stepped up to curl his glorious right-foot free-kick flying past the bemused Niemi and into the roof of the net. But the Cottagers showed great character when they stormed back to reduce the arrears in the 22nd minute. Liam Rosenior's cross from the right found Brian McBride leaping above Neville to head home from seven yards. Back came United to make it 3-1 a minute later. Saha cut in from the left, but when he found Ruud van Nistelrooy just inside the Fulham box, the Dutchman was clearly offside. Play was allowed to continue and, although Niemi saved van Nistelrooy's shot, Saha followed up to score with a close-range tap-in against his former club. Fulham boss Chris Coleman's protests saw him sent to the stands by referee Martin Atkinson. United's defensive frailties were there for all to see again in the 36th minute. Bridge beat off Park's challenge as he raced down the left. His cross to the far post from the byline was met by Heidar Helguson leaping high above Evra to head home from six yards - United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar parrying the ball into his own net against his former club. United's defence, shaky in the first half, became shambolic in the second. The farce was encapsulated in Evra's aerial collision with Mikael Silvestre when they went for the same ball. The hosts held on and clinched victory five minutes from the end with another superb goal. Van Nistelrooy released Saha down the left and his cross set up the Dutchman to fire in a shot from the edge of the box. Niemi clawed the ball away but Ronaldo reacted quickly to get in a shot from the right byline which hit the far post and rolled over the line and into the back of the net.
Live Text Commentary
Full time
 

United claim the points but Fulham will feel that they should have taken a point after dominating for much of the second half.

88

Rooney wins the ball well, sets Van Nistelrooy clear and the striker goes down under the challenge of Rosenior but the ref turns down the penalty appeals.

86
Goal
 

It's all over as Ronaldo snatches a second against the run of play. Van Nistelrooy's shot is saved by Niemi but the winger follows up and fires a shot in off the post.

82

Rooney is forced to head clear in his own six-yard box from Knight's header, then Brown does well to block Stern John's shot as Fulham pile on the pressure.

80
Substitution
 

A third change from United, with Phillip Bardsley replacing the poor Evra.

79
Yellow Card
 

Another booking, this time it's Patrice Evra for a rash challenge.

76
Substitution
 

Another positive change from the Cottagers, with Collins John replacing Heidar Helguson.

75

An off-the-ball incident between Helguson and Vidic, but Martin Atkinson sorts things out quite quickly.

73

Van Nistelrooy has another chance and breaks into the box, but his shot is shotpped at the near port by Niemi.

71

A good chance for United to seal the victory, but Van Nistelrooy's header from Smith's cross strikes the crossbar.

68
Substitution
 

A double change from Sir Alex Ferguson, with Wayne Rooney coming on for Ji-Sung Park.

68
Substitution
 

Gary Neville is taken off and replaced by recent signing Nemanja Vidic.

65

Another chace for Fulham to get the ball into the box. Boa Morte's free-kick is headed goalwards by knight, but it loops into Van der Sar's arms.

62
Yellow Card
 

Luis Boa Morte is booked after a tackle from behind on Ronaldo and is the fifth player cautioned.

60

A corner is flicked onto Park on the edge of the box, but his shot is deflected a yard wide.

59

Ronaldo is trying to force his way into the game and is now starting to cause some problems for the visitors but his shot is parried by Niemi.

55

Radzinski is the latest Fulham player to have an attempt on goal, but the Canadian shoots over in a decent position.

52

United can't cope at the moment and Boa Morte takes the ball off Park and beats Brown before losing his footing.

50

Malbranque is running the show here, he gets behind Kieran Richardson and his deflected shot forces an uncomfortable stop from the shaky Edwin Van der Sar.

48

Steed Malbranque and Liam Rosenior combine well down the right, but this time Rosenior's cross hits the roof of the net.

47

It's a decent start from Fulham, who are keeping the ball well in midfield and frustrating United.

45
Substitution
 

Chris Coleman makes a change at the break, with Michael Brown going off after 45 minutes of his debut and is replaced by Tomasz Radzinski.

Second half
 

United are likely to have had a flea in their ear from Sir Alex Ferguson, after dominating the early stage of the first period.

Half time
 

Cracking first-half and there's likely to be more goals to come. United look shaky at the back and Fulham realise it.

44

Evra is struggling to contain Malbranque, with the Frenchman's cross finding McBride, but his shot is fired over.

43

Fulham look the more likely side to add to the scoring, although Saha and Van Nistelrooy are always dangerous on the break.

42
Yellow Card
 

Neville is the latest player booked, diving in on Boa Morte and punished for the late challenge.

40

Fulham are really on top here and sense they can cause United more problems at the back and they do look shakey.

38
Yellow Card
 

Wes Brown is cautioned after a late challenge on Boa Morte.

37
Goal
 

Fulham refuse to lie down and are back in it. Great run and cross from Wayne Bridge and a powerful header at the back post from Heidar Helguson.

35
Yellow Card
 

Alan Smith is the second player picking up a yellow card, with a rash challenge on Michael Brown on halfway.

33

Steed Malbranque does well down the right and is causing problems, Wes Brown is forced into a diving header to clear the danger.

31

Luis Boa Morte tries to break forward from midfield and looks to have bundled over by Patrice Evra, but Martin Atkinson waves away the appeals.

27

Ronaldo looks hungry for more, beats Zat Knight and cross for Van Nistelrooy and the striker flicks the ball just wide.

24

Chris Coleman is fuming that Van Nistelrooy wasn't given offside and is set to stands.

23
Goal
 

It's goal fest, as United get their two-goal advantage back straight away. Ruud van Nistelrooy appeared to be offside, but the ref waves play on and Niemi saves the Dutchman's shot but Saha stabs in the rebound.

22
Goal
 

Rosenior's cross picks out McBride and the American's free header at the near post beats Van der Sar to get Fulham back in it.

15
Yellow Card
 

Liam Rosenior is the first player into the referee's notebook, after he is adjudged to have fouled Saha and then kicks the ball away.

13
Goal
 

The home side are in command as Ronaldo doubles their lead. The Portugese star fires in a long-range free kick past Niemi.

9

Cristiano Ronaldo is the latest home player to try his luck, but his 12-yard striker is gathered by Niemi.

6
Goal
 

United are in front after a really bright start, with Ji-Sung Park grabbing his first goal in the Premiership. The Korean sees his strike take a big deflection to beat the wrong-footed Niemi.

4

Simon Elliott swings the ball in and McBride gets up highest in the area, but his header is collected by Edwin Van der Sar.

2

United create the first chance of the game and force Antti Niemi into a decent save, as the keeper tips Ruud van Nistelrooy's header round the post.

Kickoff
 

Fulham look like they are going to get stuck-in and Luis Boa Morte fouled Gary Neville in the first minute.

Awaiting Kickoff
 

Sir Alex Ferguson names Wayne Rooney on the bench, with Louis Saha partnering Ruud van Nistelrooy. Alan Smith returns in midfield. Fulham have Heidar Helguson and Brian McBride up front, while Michael Brown makes his debut for the Cottagers.