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2 November 2013
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: L. Probert
• Attendance: 25700
A. Kačaniklić 65'
A. Valencia 9'
R. van Persie 20'
W. Rooney 22'
Anyway, that'll be all from me, Sam Wells, today. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed today's game as much as I did. Until next time, farewell!
Manchester United, meanwhile, can, in spite of their occasionally suspect second-half showing, be extremely happy with how today went. In what could have been a troublesome fixture, they essentially won the game within the opening 25 minutes and never looked all that uncomfortable, despite facing some concerted Fulham pressure in the second period. However, the injuries picked up in today's game are a cause for concern for Moyes as Rafael, Evans and Cleverley were all forced to make way at half. Still, a comfortable day at the office all told - something Moyes is in need of these days!
Ignoring that unsavoury incident towards the end of the half, Martin Jol can take solace from his side's second half performance in this contest. They looked the better side in the second period, though how much of that was down to United's reduced levels of ambition is up for debate. Still, they showed some resolve to almost instigate a fightback and can hold their heads high, in spite of their dismal first half showing.
Januzaj continues to remonstrate with the referee in the aftermath of that incident with Riether as he's understandably unhappy with the right back's conduct - perhaps retrospective punishment will be doled out by the FA for that incident?
90' + 3'
And with that late flare-up over with, the referee brings an end to proceedings as Manchester United claim a 3-1 win courtesy of an extremely impressive first half!
90' + 2'
Looking at that again, it's quite evident that Riether stamped on Januzaj as the youngster was on the ground in the corner. Whether or not it was intentional, only the right back will know (though one suspects it was).
90' + 1'
Riether and Januzaj were also heavily involved but the referee deems the coming together unworthy of a booking, instead awarding a goal kick and giving the pair a talking to.
It all threatens to boil over in the corner as tempers flare following Manchester United's time-wasting antics! It's unclear what exactly happened but Fellaini and Kasami appear to be major players.
United hold the ball in the corner as Januzaj and Rooney interchange passes before the former frustrates Fulham with some neat footwork. He is eventually tackled but that only allows United another throw in, affording them more time to waste.
Fulham go close again! Richardson, in an unusally central and advanced position, meets a cross with his head but can't quite divert it into the far corner as the left back sees his header fly just wide of the far post.
From the ensuing corner, there's a goalmouth scramble as the ball somehow eludes every United man. Van Persie is the closest to firing goalwards but it actually transpires to be a quite comical air kick as Senderos steps in in time.
United forge a rare opportunity in this second half as Evra gets forward down the left, crossing the ball as he tries to find Van Persie or Rooney. Nothing doing though as Senderos intervenes well, putting behind for a corner.
Fulham continue to push forward in the latter stages as Berbatov feeds the oncoming Taarabt to the right of the United area. He strikes goalwards but De Gea claims astutely, holding onto the ball well and affording United some respite.
Bent hits the bar! After a Richardson cross causes the United defence no end of problems, Berbatov dinks a ball to the back post, which his strike partner duly attempts to head back across goal. His looping effort can only find the bar, however, and it goes out for a goal kick.
Fulham forge a dangerous counter attack, primarily through the driving run of Taarabt, but the same man's eventual strike at goal is blocked by Smalling and the opportunity goes begging.
Januzaj attempts a strike from distance but his effort flies high and wide of the goal, causing Stekelenburg no problem at all. Parker is replaced by Bent as Fulham look to throw everything at United in the hope of completing an unlikely comeback.
Kacaniklic has another effort at goal but this strike proves nowhere near as fruitful as the first as his right-footed shot flies well over the bar. He received the ball in a nice area and will be disappointed he couldn't do better with that one.
The home support are unhappy after Fellaini earns his side a free kick, nutmegging Sidwell before going down under the same man's challenge.
Fulham definitely look the stronger of the two teams as we approach the final ten minutes of this contest; Kasami earns his side a corner after nice interplay down the right. The corner is punched unconvincingly clear by De Gea before Amorebieta, of all people, acrobatically overhead kicks the ball back into the area. The United goalkeeper claims but that was some nice work from the Fulham centre back!
Jones is hobbling but Moyes can do little but implore him to fight through the pain as he's used all of his three substitutions. Meanwhile, Taarabt goes down in the Manchester United area under pressure from Vidic but, frankly, his efforts to earn a penalty are embarrassing and they are duly passed over by the referee. He was lucky to not earn a booking for simulation there.
The game is definitely picking up in tempo once more as Fulham appear to have stepped up the pace since that Taarabt substitution. However, they'll need a goal sooner rather than later if they still harbour hopes of getting anything from this contest.
It almost appears to have done the trick as Fulham instantly have the ball in the United area for the first time since that Kacaniklic goal. After a goalmouth scramble, initiated by a Kasami cross, the ball falls to Richardson, who strikes goalwards on his weaker right foot. Jones is there to block and the ball is cleared but that's better from Fulham's perspective.
Fulham attempt a hopeful long ball as they appear to have run out of ideas - Vidic deals with it and United have possession once more. Jol attempts to solve matters, bringing Taarabt on to, presumably, try and inject some creativity into proceedings.
If anything, and somewhat perversely, that goal seems to have worked in United's favour. It's spurred the away side into action as they've dominated proceedings since Kacaniklic's goal, looking extremely comfortable in all aspects of their game.
Brilliant footwork from Januzaj allows him to get away down the left wing, eluding two Fulham challenges, only for the run to be sullied somewhat by the youngster going down all too easily under a challenge. Nothing is given and Fulham look to build again.
Fulham attempt to get something going down the left but, despite Sidwell's resilience, they eventually concede possession as Parker then brings down Januzaj, somewhat cynically.
United really do look reinvigorated by that goal - they're keeping possession really well and, when their opposition do have the ball, they're pressing similarly impressively. It still looks a long way back for Jol's men, in all honesty.
Cries of 'come on Fulham!' ring out around the ground but United are retaining possession adeptly following that Kacaniklic goal - the Cottagers have barely had a kick since.
United enjoy a spell of possession after that goal but all it takes is another stroke of good fortune, or one piece of magic, and Fulham really are back into this contest! It'll be interesting to see how the away side respond to that goal.
Assist Kieran Richardson
Goal Alexander Kacaniklic
GOAL! And Fulham have one back! It's the substitute Alexandar Kacaniklic, though it may go down as an own goal as Rooney plays a big part in the shot finding the far corner. The winger cut inside before striking goalwards, only for Rooney's boot to divert the ball into the opposite corner. A fortuitious goal but could there be an unlikely comeback on the cards here at Craven Cottage?!
United forge a counter attack down the left, culminating in Fellaini being brought down by a combination of Riether and Senderos. Rooney finds the former Everton man from the ensuing free kick but he can only head into the side-netting.
Fulham continue to enjoy the lion's share of possession in this second period but that will be of little concern to Manchester United, unless the home side can actually capitalise on their positive spell with a goal.
United attempt to forge an attack of their own but Jones' cross is overhit and, though Van Persie gets something on it, its not enough to keep the attack alive.
Kasami goes close to making something happen again as, after stepping inside Valencia with some more nimble footwork, he chips a ball into the backpost. Vidic spots the danger, however, and adeptly heads clear.
Yellow Card Amorebieta
An end-to-end passage of play draws to a close as, after a Fulham break is concluded as Dejagah's cross goes unmet, Amorebieta cynically brings down Valencia, giving away a free kick and earning himself a booking in the process.
Fellaini beats Senderos all too easily on the left wing before feeding Rooney on the edge of the area. The forward attempts to play it to Kagawa but the Japan international dwells too long on the ball and the chance goes begging.
Fulham's impressive start to the half appears to have drawn to a close as United resume the strangehold over possession that they enjoyed in the first half. Januzaj, Kagawa and Rooney all exchange passes in the Fulham half as Van Persie looks to get in behind the Fulham defence once more. It eventually comes to nothing but the Cottagers will be unhappy that their early momentum in this second period appears to have passed.
Kasami, bright at the start of this second half, gets to the byline, beating Valencia thanks to some clever footwork before putting a cross into the area. The delivery is just too strong for Berbatov though as the Bulgarian fails to keep it in.
Berbatov, receiving the ball with his back to goal, shepherds the ball before being dispossessed by Fellaini. He's unhappy with the close attention he received from the former Everton man but the referee sees nothing wrong with the challenge.
Yellow Card Antonio Valencia
Kasami goes down under a strong challenge from Valencia and duly earns his side a free kick. The winger gets a booking for his troubles and play is resumed.
Jones gives the ball away to Ruiz with a quite dreadful pass before fouling the same man to give the home side a free kick just inside the United half. Kasami receives the ball short before firing a cross into Berbatov, which Vidic does well to clear.
The home side have started this half, as they did the last, in the ascendancy as they look to find their way back into the game with a goal early doors. They're probing around the United area but have yet to find a way through.
Kasami goes close! He picks up the ball on the edge of the area before swivelling on it and firing a firmly struck effort goalwards. It whistles just past the post but that was a good strike!
Incidentally, Tom Cleverley, Rafael and Jonny Evans are the men to make way in those three half-time changes. Moyes may have one eye on the Champions League fixtures in midweek there as all three appeared to pick up slightly knocks in the first half.
Fulham get us underway as they look to do the unthinkable and get back into this game!
The teams are returning to the pitch now as Moyes, in an unprecedented move, prepares to make three changes at half time, bringing on Shinji Kagawa, Marouane Fellaini and Chris Smalling.
Manchester United will, naturally, be delighted with their contribution to the first half as, in spite of a slow opening five minutes or so, they got the opener with practically their first chance, before building on that with two goals in quick succession. They haven't had to be at their best but it doesn't seem like a stretch to presume that they have already done enough to win this game. Nonetheless, they will have to remain professional in this second half and one can only imagine the uproar should Moyes' men throw this lead away!
That, even by Fulham's standards, was a truly demoralising half if ever there was one as, in spite of a decent start, they capitulated in style following Antonio Valencia's opener, conceding three in the space of 15 minutes as they paid the price for a dubiously high line. Their response, following those three goals, wasn't all that bad, but it appears to be too little, too late as it's difficult to envisage a Cottagers comeback. Still, stranger things have happened!
45' + 4'
And the referee's whistle brings an end to what has been a truly dismal first half for Martin Jol and his men! They go into the break 3-0 down and there appears to be little way back for the home side.
45' + 2'
Dejagah and Parker aren't on the same wavelength as, in a move that encapsulates Fulham's half, the former attempts to pass to the latter, only for the latter to halt his run and allow the ball to run to a Manchester United player. Half time can't come soon enough for this Fulham side.
45' + 1'
That pressure, as with Cleverley's mysterious facial injury minutes before it, also subsides as Senderos dispossesses Van Persie on the edge of his own area, before clearing astutely. A rare piece of good defensive play from Fulham in this half.
Cleverley is back on the pitch now as his mystery injury appears to have subsided, whatever it may have been. Four minutes of injury time are called as United begin to put pressure on the hitherto unconvincing Fulham defence once more.
The play is halted, yet again, as it's Cleverley this time who is the United complainant. It's not clear what exactly the England international's concern is but he's shaking his head and, in actual fact, kicked the ball out himself, holding his face for some reason.
Any step that the Fulham side put wrong is being vehemently boo'ed by the home support; one can't help but suspect Jol is bracing himself for a particularly venomous reception at the conclusion of this half, just minutes away now.
Parker, who has endured mixed fortunes, to put it kindly, in the first half of this contest, is dispossessed by Valencia in his own half, allowing United to build another attack.
Rooney gets forward down the right and fires a cross across the face of the box. Van Persie is the only man to aim for but it eludes the Dutchman and Fulham are safe from a fourth, for now at least.
Evans kicks the ball back to Stekelenburg and Fulham attempt to build from the back once more. Though they haven't played too badly since that third, one can't help but feel that is down to United's decreasing interest in going forward, as opposed to it being some sort of response from the home side.
Dejagah whips in the free kick but Vidic clears astutely, before another clash floors another United player with Janujaz, this time, the recipient of a strong Parker challenge. He is soon up and we are up and running again.
Fulham continue to push forward, as they must, but a misplaced pass from Riether puts an end to their attack. The resolve of Parker, at fault for the second goal, soon revives it, however, as the England international dispossesses Rooney before being fouled by Rafael down the left wing.
No need for the stretcher now as, to a chorus of boo's, Rafael returns to the fray, moving gingerly but moving nonetheless.
A stretcher is being called on for Rafael, though the Brazilian appears to be in better shape than he was a minute or so ago. His pain was both visible and audible (perhaps because he was next to the microphone) but that doesn't stop the home support deriding the right back at every opportunity.
Rafael appears to be seriously hurt as he goes down under a challenge from Kasami, though it seems to be the fall that is causing him consternation, rather than the actual challenge itself.
Yellow Card Ashkan Dejagah
Fulham are attempting to get forward and create something but, as Vidic shepherds a ball behind under duress from Dejagah, one can't help but feel these attempts are all in vain. The Cottagers' must seriously doubt their own ability to get back into this game.
All of those three goals had something in common: they were a direct result of United getting in behind the Fulham backline. As the Cottagers attempt to find a way back into this contest, Jol must be wondering about the pitfalls of this high line he appears to have chosen to adopt.
The game gets back underway as Evra appears to have overcome his injury, picking the ball up from Januzaj as he surges down the left.
The game is called to a halt as Evra receives treatment after the left back appeared to pick up a knock.
Berbatov goes close to drawing his side a goal closer to levelling proceedings as he turns on the ball smartly, losing Evans astutely, before striking into the far corner. The effort doesn't have quite enough on it though and De Gea saves well.
United resume their strangehold over possession and almost create another opportunity, this time courtesy of the hapless Senderos' dismal clearance. Jones attempts to strike as the centre-backs attempted intervention falls to him but Amorebieta steps in and gets his body in the way.
Richardson aims a speculative effort at goal from distance, on his right foot no less, but he sees his strike fly wide of De Gea's goal, though the referee sees a deflection, awarding the home side a corner. Surely they need a goal back before the break if they are to stand any chance of getting anything from this game?
There were hints of offside about that goal, to be fair to the Fulham defence as, when Jones played the ball through to Van Persie, the Dutchman appeared to be beyond the last Fulham defender. Still, there's little point quibbling about it now as Jol and his men face a mammoth task if they are to get back into this game.
Assist Robin van Persie
Goal Wayne Rooney
GOAL! And it's 3-0 for Manchester United thanks to Rooney's first of the game! This is all too easy for the Red Devils as, after Van Persie is, once again, put in behind the Fulham defence, the Dutchman squares for his striking partner who duly taps into the open goal. Surely there's no way back for Fulham now - they are three behind after 21 minutes!
Assist Adnan Januzaj
Goal Robin van Persie
GOAL! And Van Persie makes it two with an emphatic finish! It's lovely play from Manchester United but that is poor defending from Fulham. Parker is dispossessed by Januzaj in his own half, who duly runs at the backtracking Cottagers backline before putting his teammate through on goal. United's talisman makes no mistake, striking past his compatriot and into the roof of the net - 2-0!
Berbatov is so close to levelling proceedings! Parker puts the striker through on goal with a lovely ball and, though the Bulgarian looks favourite to be first to the ball, Rafael does brilliantly to get back and put the ball behind for a corner.
Fulham finally put some passes together in the aftermath of that goal but it's never comfortable and, after Amorebieta, under pressure from Valencia, lays the ball unconvincingly back to Stekelenburg, the goalkeeper duly boots the ball out of play, giving United a throw.
Kasami earns a free kick in his own half, affording Fulham some respite as Valencia brings the winger down to the left of the Cottagers' area.
United continue to stroke the ball around with consummate ease, though that spell is brought to a swift conclusion courtesy of a quite terrible ball forward from Vidic, the Serbian skewing his pass out for a Fulham throw.
That goal, as one might expect, has completely changed the complexion of this tie as Fulham look shellshocked by that opening goal. They're struggling to get a foothold on the game following Valencia's opener and need to buck up their ideas sooner rather than later if they are to get back into this contest.
Manchester United look in fine form after that opening goal, Januzaj and Rooney linking up smartly down the left as a swift interchange of passes allows the former some space down the wing.
A truly disappointing goal to concede for the home side, particularly after they started the game the livelier of the two teams. Let's see if they can forge a comeback after that early sucker punch!
Assist Wayne Rooney
Goal Antonio Valencia
GOAL! And it's Valencia with the opener! Rooney is the architect as, after Van Persie threaded the striker through on the goal, he cut back onto his right, drawing Stekelenburg out before squaring to the unmarked Valencia. The winger duly stroked into the net and United are a goal to the good with practically their first chance of the game!
Manchester United are beginning to assert themselves on this contest as they are enjoying more of the possession in the past few minutes, though they too have yet to forge a real opportunity.
Januzaj provides a rare bright moment for United in this opening stages as he puts the ball one side of Riether before running the other, scampering down the left wing. He is, eventually, crowded out but that was some neat footwork from the winger.
Fulham have started this game in lively form as they continue to probe around the Manchester United area. Kasami and Berbatov earn their side a corner with some nice interplay, forcing Rafael to intervene and put the ball behind. Ruiz's subsequent corner is cleared with ease, however, and Fulham attempt to build again.
Van Persie incites the ire of the home support as he fouls Kasami, diving in somewhat rashly on the edge of the Fulham area. A foul but, to the audible annoyance of the home support, nothing more as the Dutchman escapes a booking, perhaps fortuitiously.
Kasami attempts to do just that, stinging the hands of De Gea with a rasping effort after stepping inside neatly from the left wing. A decent effort but the United goalkeeper was always going to save comfortably.
The Cottagers have started this game enjoying more of the possession, though they haven't created anything in the opening few minutes to overly concern this Manchester United defence.
Berbatov, against his old club, attempts to get Fulham going in the early stages as he runs at the backline, only for Vidic to step in adeptly, averting any danger in the opening minutes.
And we're underway at Craven Cottage! Manchester United kick off proceedings as they look to build on their 4-0 win over Norwich in midweek with a similarly emphatic win today.
The teams are in the tunnel now as we are minutes away from kick off at Craven Cottage!
Predictably, David Moyes also makes wholesale changes from the side that triumphed against Norwich in the Capital One Cup, bringing in David De Gea, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie at the expense of Andres Lindegaard, Rio Ferdinand, Alexander Buttner, Wilfried Zaha, Ashley Young and Chicharito.
Fulham change their whole outfield line-up from the side that fell to a surprise Capital One Cup exit against Leicester as they return to the same eleven that lost 2-0 against Southampton last Saturday, with the one exception being Darren Bent's omission as Ashkan Dejagah comes into the team.
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Jones, Cleverley, Januzaj; Rooney, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Smalling, Fellaini, Kagawa, Nani, Young, Hernandez.
Fulham: Stekelenburg; Riether, Senderos, Amorebieta, Richardson; Dejagah, Sidwell, Parker, Kasami; Ruiz; Berbatov. Subs: Stockdale, Hughes, Karagounis, Kacaniklic, Boateng, Taarabt, Bent.
And here come the team line-ups:
They come into this game off the back of an emphatic 4-0 Carling Cup win over Norwich and will, surely, approach this game imbued with a sense of confidence rarely seen in this Manchester United side this season. With a win potentially taking them above Manchester City and pressure refusing to relent on Moyes and co., this could be an important clash - let's see who can claim the spoils!
Though much has been made of the Red Devils' middling form of late, their October turned out to be a fairly productive month; David Moyes' men went unbeaten in their six games, winning four and drawing two in all competitions.
However, courtesy of their two wins against Stoke and Crystal Palace preceding those two defeats, the Cottagers sit in 14th and could feasibly breach the top half with a win here. Of course, that is by no means an easy task as they face current champions Manchester United who, in spite of their start to the season, always make for formidable opposition.
Martin Jol and his men enter this game off the back of a humbling Capital One Cup exit at the hands of Championship outfit which, coupled with their 2-0 defeat at Southampton last Saturday, capped a fairly dismal week for the Cottagers.
Good afternoon and welcome to live coverage of today's Premier League clash between Fulham and Manchester United, I'm Sam Wells and I'll be guiding you through today's proceedings.
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