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  • Bocanegra (6 og), Ronaldo (14), Saha (23), Ronaldo (86)
  • McBride (22), Helguson (37)
  • Date:2006-02-04
  • Kick-off:17:15
  • Venue:Old Trafford
  • Attendance:67844
  • Referee:Atkinson, M

Live Commentary

90mins

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

88mins

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.

86mins

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.

82mins

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.

80mins

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

79mins

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

76mins

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

75mins

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

73mins

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

71mins

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

68mins

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

68mins

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

65mins

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.

62mins

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

60mins

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

59mins

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.

55mins

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

52mins

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

50mins

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.

48mins

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

47mins

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

45mins

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.

45mins

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

45mins

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

44mins

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

43mins

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

42mins

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

40mins

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

38mins

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

37mins

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.

35mins

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

33mins

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

31mins

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.

27mins

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

24mins

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

23mins

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.

22mins

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.

15mins

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.

13mins

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

9mins

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

6mins

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.

4mins

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

2mins

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.

0mins

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

0mins

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.

Match Preview

Despite making progress to the Carling Cup final and the fifth round of the FA Cup, Manchester United continue to flatter to deceive in the Premiership.

The thrilling 4-3 defeat at Blackburn Rovers in midweek made it four points from their last four Premiership matches as they slipped further behind runaway leaders Chelsea and made their bid to pip Liverpool to second spot even harder.

The experiment of using Rio Ferdinand in midfield may have to be shelved following the England man's red card at Ewood Park. He impressed in the role in the comfortable 3-0 FA Cup win at Wolves but looked in trouble several times against Robbie Savage and Tugay and now faces a one-game ban.

Alan Smith returns after being suspended for the Rovers game but Ryan Giggs (hamstring) and John O'Shea (ribs) miss out.

Sir Alex Ferguson continues to have to work with a lengthy injury list with Paul Scholes out for the season with an eye problem while Gabriel Heinze and Quinton Fortune remain on the long-term injury list.

Fulham's comparatively safe position six points clear of the bottom three has been built on an impressive record at Craven Cottage but they are extremely brittle on their travels where they have failed to win any of their 12 Premiership matches this term.

Claus Jensen is sidelined until at least the end of February with a groin problem, while Mark Pembridge should return to first-team action in a fortnight following his calf injury.

Phillippe Christanval could win a place on the substitute's bench after recovering well from an ankle injury.


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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.

Manchester United

Fulham

Corners

85

Fouls

1014

Goal attempts

2110

Shots off target

73

Offsides

31

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