into the cluster of bodies, Bryan Ruiz craftily rolled a square ball to Damien Duff, who shrugged off Young’s attentions to slot a simple finish past David De Gea.
United’s response was positive. Antonio Valencia, restored to his regular role as a winger after Rafael’s reinstatement, fired a cross behind Van Persie and Kagawa after impressive approach play, before the Reds drew level in sensational fashion in the tenth minute.
Inevitably, it came from the left boot of van Persie. The lively Patrice Evra whipped in a cross from the left which skipped up awkwardly off the rain-sodden turf, yet the summer’s marquee signing made a mockery of such inconveniences, peeling away from Brede Hangeland before sweeping a majestic finish high into Mark Schwarzer’s goal.
Old Trafford, inevitably, erupted in recognition of the new figure on centre stage. The roar was also tinged with relief that the visitors had been so swiftly pegged back. Fulham, to their credit, appeared unaffected by the Dutchman’s strike and continued to push forward with intent whenever the situation arose.
It took quick thinking and fancy footwork from De Gea to niftily manoeuvre away from Petric, moments before Valencia arrowed a shot past Schwarzer’s top corner. Ten minutes before the interval, United moved into the lead for the first time with another goal from a home debutant.