There was a gulf in class as United ran out 4-1 winners last week and Fulham boss Martin Jol admitted that his side could have conceded six or seven goals. That wasn’t the case in an entertaining and evenly-contested encounter in London, but Sir Alex’s selection of Nani, Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie in particular put the Reds on the front foot from the off in the first half.
United almost took the lead after eight minutes as Nani leapt to reach van Persie’s delivery from a corner, resulting in a save from Mark Schwarzer. Evra hit the bar from the rebound and Rooney followed that up with a shot that was cleared off the line. Seconds later Evra had a shot stopped by Schwarzer, while at the other end David De Gea pulled off two fantastic saves; first he turned a long-range John Arne Riise effort over the bar, then he tipped Bryan Ruiz’s low drive onto the post.
Rooney completed a frantic opening 20 minutes with a low shot that went just past the post, and ten minutes later the United no.10 hit the post from the edge of the box after good work from Nani on the wing and Cleverley’s neat lay-off. The woodwork was struck again as Brede Hangeland’s skewed headed clearance looped onto the bar.
United were frustrated by Fulham’s stout defending, the crossbar, the post and even the floodlights, which failed with around two minutes of the first half remaining, plunging Craven Cottage into darkness for ten minutes. The players had to leave the field until the lights came