United kept up the pressure on Manchester City with another impressive performance on their travels to secure a first league victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage for almost four years.
Danny Welbeck set the Reds on their way to a convincing 5-0 win with a smart finish after just five minutes. Nani doubled the advantage in the 23rd minute, before the outstanding Ryan Giggs claimed a deflected effort, ensuring he has scored in the top flight for 22 consecutive seasons. Wayne Rooney netted a 30-yard screamer two minutes from time, before Dimitar Berbatov put the icing on the cake with a delightful back-heeled finish from close-range.
It wasn’t all good for the Reds, however, with both Phil Jones and Ashley Young picking up injuries. Jones’ in particular looked a nasty one after he was grounded by an accidental elbow to the face by Clint Dempsey in the opening seconds. He lasted until the 20th minute before being replaced by Young, who limped off midway through the second period.
Sir Alex made two changes to the starting XI that beat QPR three days earlier – Anders Lindegaard came in between the sticks, while Giggs was brought into midfield to replace Jones, who switched to right-back, with Chris Smalling moving into a central position alongside Jonny Evans to cover Rio Ferdinand’s absence through injury.
Jones seemed set to join Ferdinand in the treatment room after just a minute of play when he was caught by Dempsey. The 19-year-old was closely examined by United’s medical team before being given the thumbs up to continue.
The prolonged stoppage wasn’t about to derail the Reds who had started brightly and, just as they did at Loftus Road, United made the most of their first sight of goal and duly took another early lead.