Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Sunday March 14 2010
Fulham crashed to defeat at Old Trafford this afternoon courtesy of three second half goals, two scored by Rooney and one by Berbatov.
It was scant reward for a diligent first half performance whereby Fulham had held out against anything United could muster.
With big-fish to fry in the cup competitions, Roy Hodgson had indicated that there might be a few changes made for this fixture, but there weren`t as many as we`d have perhaps anticipated.
Kelly and Shorey started as the full back pairing and Dempsey came in for his first start since his injury problems. Missing, presumably rested ahead of the Juventus clash, were Konchesky and Etuhu with Duff allocated a place on the subs bench.
As expected United were prepared to set the pace in the first half but Fulham defended well, getting in decent blocks to foil the advancing red hordes. In fact, around about the quarter of an hour mark Fulham started to make inroads and when Dempsey caught Neville napping his shot couldn`t quite find the net whilst Gera saw a shot deflected for a corner.
But respite was brief and United started to turn the screws. Nani saw a shot deflected wide, Berbatov saw a volley from the resulting corner go inches wide and the same player headed over a Nani cross when it looked easier to score.
On the half hour mark Schwarzer produced a fine save to deny Rooney by stretching out an arm to keep his low shot out, before Carrick drilled a shot wide. Rooney, becoming quite famed for his headers these days, saw Schwarzer clutch one from ten yards out.
Rooney then theatrically appealed for a penalty after his shot hit two Fulham defenders but it would have been a very harsh decision before a rare lapse of concentration in the home defence saw a Murphy ball find Zamora but his lob cleared the bar as well as Fulham old-boy Van der Sar,
With half time approaching Berbatov saw a shot blocked and Nani saw a shot deflected for a corner before a Rooney effort, from twenty-five yards, flew just wide.
Half time and all was well.
Roy Hodgson introduced Duff in place of Davies for the second half but the splendid resistance we`d put up in the first half was soon a thing of the past. In the first seconds of the half Rooney was given far too much space in the box and was easily able to tuck away a Nani pass from eight yards out.
Could Fulham get back into things? Well the answer should have been yes. After surviving further pressure whereby a Ferdinand volley flew inches over after a corner we should have scored.
A long ball out of defence split the United central defenders and Zamora was through on goal. Sadly, the ball got caught under his feet and he couldn`t take the opportunity. After that it was to be all downhill.
Nani saw a shot from thirty yards fly over, Evra shot wide after bursting forward and Schwarzer produced a great save as Fletcher broke through. Sadly tiring minds gifted United two late goals.
The first came with six minutes of normal time left when Rooney converted after a great assist from Berbatov whilst Berbatov was on hand, five minutes later, to head home a cross from Park.
Time to regroup before we entertain Juventus methinks!
Date:Sunday March 14 2010
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