back and completed the half.
The start to the second half felt flat, with a tame van Persie header straight at Schwarzer and a shanked Rafael shot from 25 yards the closest United came before the hour mark. Fulham, for their part, were content to slow the pace of the game right down, putting the onus on the Reds to lift the tempo. But United’s passing wasn’t as crisp as it needed to be.
Chris Baird had an effort saved by De Gea after 63 minutes and then at the other end the combative Cottagers midfielder put the block on Nani’s shot from six yards after van Persie’s pull-back from the byline. Even so, a change was sorely needed to freshen up United’s attack, and it arrived with the introduction of Javier Hernandez in place of Valencia. The Mexican’s energy provided a purpose to the Reds' play, which had been conspicuous by its absence in the second half.
Ryan Giggs also came off the bench to replace Cleverley with 15 minutes remaining, but it wasn’t all about United trying to find the winner. Work had to be done at the back too, with Rafael clearing a shot off the line.
The all-important breakthrough hadn’t seemed to be on the cards but it arrived on 79 minutes via a moment of opportunism from United’s best player. Philippe Senderos misjudged Jonny Evans' high ball