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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
02 February 2013
• Craven Cottage, London
Referee: K. Friend
• Attendance: 25670
W. Rooney 79'
All in all a successful day at the office for Ferguson, then, despite some nervy moments. Thanks a lot for joining us and make sure to stick with the site for all the reaction. Good evening.
Full-time!! It's cruel on Fulham, considering how well they played in both halves, but in the end Manchester United, and Rooney, just had too much for the hosts following the striker's 79th minute winner. Both sides had a number of chances in the first 45, Rooney and Ruiz both hitting the woodwork, Schwarzer making several key saves and a few goal-line clearances being made too, however it remained goal-less until the late strike which puts Ferguson's men a hefty ten points clear of rivals Manchester City at the top of the table.
90' + 4'
Rodallega's strike hits the wall and the full-time whistle is blown.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Wayne Rooney
90' + 3'
Petric wins a free-kick just outside the United area, here comes one more chance for Fulham...
90' + 2'
Off the line again! Van Persie heads Senderos' header away from goal! Hernandez then almost capitalises on a mistake by Reither but can't beat Schwarzer.
90' + 1'
Emanuelson has a strike deflected behind for a corner...
Three minutes added on in west London.
Fulham now on the ball and trying to probe at the United defence as they, unsuccessfully, search for an opening.
Ryan Giggs squeezes a cross in from the right but it's a poor one and is cleared with ease. United get it back, though, and continue to knock the ball about as they look to see out the result.
Van Persie fires an acrobatic overhead-kick over the bar after a flowing move involving Rooney and Nani, but the flag is raised anyway.
Rodallega sends a looping header over the bar from the set-piece.
Ferdinand heads behind after a good cross from the right from Reither.
Assist Jonny Evans
Goal Wayne Rooney
GOAL!! Rooney puts United 1-0 up! Moments after Baird wastes a Fulham free-kick by lashing the ball over the bar, the striker beats Schwarzer with a calm finish following a decisive breakaway, the Cottagers too slow to apply pressure to the United man.
Off the line from corner! Ruiz is denied as his header is cleared from underneath the cross bar, the chance coming after Baird's flick-on!
Evans heads behind after a brilliant Emanuelson cross from the left, but once again Fulham didn't throw enough at it.
Dejagah finishes a good solo run with a poorly-placed pass, which goes out for a goal-kick. I think the Fulham man's legs just gave up there.
Ooh, close from Dejagah! Ruiz and Duff link-up brilliantly on the left before the former holds up a cross for the attacker, he beats Evra in the air but can't find the target as another great chance goes begging.
Reither somehow is allowed a yard of space just inside the United penalty box, the visiting defence caught napping, but De Gea saves his low shot before Ruiz fails to convert the follow-up.
Rodallega almost finds Dejagah with a neat through ball but Evans is in the way.
Fulham's January signing from AC Milan Urby Emanuelson replaces the hard-working Karagounis to make his debut for the club.
Van Persie strikes it but his tame effort doesn't trouble Schwarzer.
Yellow Card Chris Baird
Not so smart from Baird this time as he receives a booking for a cynical trip on Valencia, United now with the free-kick not far outside the Fulham penalty box.
Baird then makes a brilliant block to deny Nani after Van Persie does fantastically well to find his team-mate after being forced wide.
Chris Baird drives a low shot at goal but De Gea saves fairly easily. Still, it was something to excite the home crowd.
Reither flashes a dangerous ball across the six-yard box but no-one in a white jersey is attacking it.
A promising Fulham attack breaks down as Ruiz runs into Carrick and Cleverley in United's central midfield. The hosts are just lacking that cutting edge in the final third at the moment.
Schwarzer saves well from Van Persie but the flag is up and the goal wouldn't have counted anyway.
This second period hasn't quite had the same tempo and thrill as the first, and that's not just because the lights have stayed on. Surely some attacking changes will be made soon.
Karagounis wastes a fantastic opening by dragging a shot wide of the goal after stealing the ball from Rio Ferdinand. A poor miss that one.
Van Persie tries to play Rooney in with a inventive flicked through ball but Hughes tracks his run and intercepts the ball.
Great link-up play from Valencia and Van Persie leads to the winger driving a low cross towards Rooney, however the offside flag is raised.
Rooney swings it in but Senderos heads it away with ease.
United now have a free-kick in a decent area after Dejagah in penalised for handball.
Karagounis wastes a free-kick for Fulham by over-hitting his delivery straight into De Gea's grateful arms.
Fairly quiet start to the second-half so far, but expect that to change with United going 97 matches since their last 0-0.
Hangeland has been replaced by Aaron Hughes at centre-back for Fulham, the former picking up a knock in the first-half.
We're back underway at Craven Cottage.
Here's our man at the game, Tom Doyle, who luckily is not afraid of the dark: "That's half-time - finally, as Kevin Friend brings the lights down (sorry) on a scintillating first half of football. We should have had goals, but both keepers have been outstanding. Will we see a winner? Will the power hold up? We have 45 minutes (and probably more) to find out."
After a blistering start that saw chances a plenty for both sides - Ruiz hitting the post for Fulham, with the woodwork also denying Rooney and a sliced Hangeland clearance from giving United the lead - the first 45 minutes somehow ends goalless. It's been a very entertaining match so far, with the power cut that plunged Craven Cottage into darkness only adding to the excitement, so let's hope it continues after the break - the football that is.
45' + 1'
Half-time!! Fulham 0-0 Manchester United
One added minute at Craven Cottage.
Slowing but surely the floodlights have come back on and the players are back out for the final few minutes of the half. United restart with a corner, it's headed away but eventually the ball finds Van Persie who shoots low only for Schwarzer to save comfortably.
How strange. The only things still working at Craven Cottage are the advertising hoardings and the big screen. The players are heading off the pitch now as the lights remain out.
Despite the fact that this is highly inconvenient, the Fulham stadium looks rather magical as thousands of mobile phones and other devices light up west London.
Power cut! Craven Cottage is plunged into complete darkness! Incredible scenes.
Another Duff free-kick, this time from wide on the right touchline, is headed away from danger by United. You just feel that Hangeland and Senderos should be more threatening from these.
Duff delivers the set-piece but it's headed away. The midfielder gets a second go but it's cleared once more.
Needless foul on Dejagah by Nani and Fulham have a free-kick in a decent position.
Nani nearly gets the better of Reither as he looks to get free on the left wing, but the Fulham defender makes up for what he lacks in relative pace with a superb sliding tackle.
Another flowing move from the visitors, but this time it ends with a poor final ball from Nani, his cross going straight behind.
POST AGAIN! Rooney hits the woodwork after some lovely play from United. Nani finds Cleverley with a fine pass, who lays it off for the striker with a neat touch before the bending shot goes close to opening the scoring.
Evra is back up and the game continues.
While Evra receives treatment let me bring it to your attention that United right-back Rafael is wearing boots with his brother Fabio's name on this evening. Strange.
Duff's corner is cleared by Van Persie at the near post, before the winger's second attempt is headed away by Rooney, the United forwards doing their jobs at the back so far at least.
Riise gets down on all fours to head the ball back to his keeper so he can pick it up, the crowd enjoying his innovation.
Rooney spreads play to Nani on the left before continuing his run, the winger's return ball doesn't find the Portugal international but does force a corner - which they waste.
Evra charges down the left flank but Sascha Reither tracks back and defends well, extinguishing the danger.
Riise's long throw finds Dejagah but the Fulham attacker is crowded out as he tries to get in behind the United defence and loses the ball.
Rooney goes close for United but just snatches at the chance and puts it wide. The forward played a nice one-two with Van Persie in the build-up but the pair were allowed far too much room by Fulham.
And another chance! Ashkan Dejagah slices a shot just wide after United fail to clear a deep free-kick from Ruiz. Some game, this!
So close again! That man Hangeland hits his own bar with an attempted clearance from the corner, before Valencia shoots narrowly wide.
And back come United! A perfectly timed sliding tackle by Hangeland denies Nani a one-on-one! Corner to the visitors...
POST! Ruiz beats De Gea with a shot from outside the box but it rebounds off the woodwork!
Michael Carrick nutmegs referee Kevin Friend as he plays a short pass to Tom Cleverley. Very nice.
David De Gea is now forced into a brilliant stop, tipping a powerful drive from John Arne Riise over the the bar. That was a typically fierce strike from the left-back.
Schwarzer then saves well again, keeping out Evra's low shot from just inside the the box.
How have United not scored!? Mark Schwarzer saves fantastically from one of his own defenders after they diverted Van Persie's corner towards goal, Patrice Evra then hits the woodwork before Rooney sees an effort cleared off the line! Madness in the Fulham penalty box.
Rodallega and Ruiz combine to good effect once more but the attack fizzles out and United win a free-kick. Decent start by the hosts.
Half-chance for Fulham as Bryan Ruiz plays Hugo Rodallega in behind the visitors' defence, the striker could shoot himself but instead pulls it back for Damien Duff who sees his effort blocked and then cleared.
Brede Hangeland launches a free-kick towards the United penalty box but they clear the danger with ease.
And we're off.
The teams are on their way out to the Craven Cottage pitch as kick-off time nears ...
Another worrying statistic for Fulham is this; Manchester United have recorded the a division-high eight away victories this term.
The main threat for the hosts? That man Van Persie, of course. The Dutch forward has netted 18 goals in this campaign already, making him the league's top scorer and will hope to add to that tally today.
Plus, with the Cottagers slipping to 13th in the Premier League table, the hosts will be desperate to try and get something from this game after Sunderland, who are just a point ahead of them, lost against Reading this afternoon.
Though much of the focus will be on Manchester United and their hunt for more breathing space over rivals City, Fulham have picked up eight points from their last five homes games in the league, losing just once, and pose a tough test for Ferguson's men.
So, the team news is in and there is no place for former Manchester United man Dimitar Berbatov in the Fulham squad - the striker suffering with a calf problem - while new signings Urby Emanuelson and Emmanuel Frimpong both make the bench. Ferguson, meanwhile, hands starts to Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie with Jonny Evans returning from injury in defence, there is no place, however, for Ashley Young who does not recover in time.
Manchester United starting line-up: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Nani; Rooney, Van Persie Subs: Amos, Smalling, Anderson, Giggs, Kagawa, Welbeck, Chicharito
Fulham starting line-up: Schwarzer; Reither, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Baird, Karagounis; Duff, Dejagah, Ruiz; Rodallega Subs: Etheridge, Petric, Frimpong, Hughes, Emanuelson, S Davies, Kacaniklic
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's play-by-play text commentary of Manchester United's trip to Craven Cottage, where they face Martin Jol's Fulham this afternoon. With Manchester City not playing until tomorrow, Sir Alex Ferguson's side have the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table to ten points if they win in west London - so let's hope the match is a good one.
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