Roy HodgsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s side produced a polished performance to dispatch the English champions.
United had scrambled together players to be deployed in defensive roles. This soft core was ruthlessly exploited by Bobby Zamora and company as United succumbed to a fifth league defeat this season.
Ferguson had warned of the potential threat that Fulham posed. Ã‚Â Indeed last season the Cottagers had sent United crashing to a 2-0 reversal and Liverpool had recently endured a 3-1 drubbing.
Ironically it was a former Liverpool player that opened the scoring after 22 minutes. Paul Scholes’ reckless first touch afforded Danny Murphy the opportunity to the pinch the ball of the midfielder. Murphy promptly rifled a shot past the outstretched Tomasz Kuszczak.
The young goalkeeper had previously shown great reflex actions in stopping a bullet of a shot from Zoltan Gera. It was a fitting reward for Fulham who had largely controlled the first half as Wayne Rooney appeared isolated up front and Michael Owen remained anonymous.
Fulham commenced the second half in the same vein. It took less than two minutes for the home team to cement their fragile lead.
Damien Duff outwitted Patrice Evra, much like he had done in the Stade de France a month ago, and drilled a cross into the box which was nodded on by Clint Dempsey. Bobby Zamora was ideally placed to drive home FulhamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second goal.
United pressed for a foothold in the match but it came to no avail. Sir Alex Ferguson withdrew the inexperienced De Laet and introduced Rafael in a defensive shuffle and substituted Owen for Dimitar Berbatov.
Despite a sustained spell of pressure Brede Hangeland remained an immovable tower at the heart of the Cottagers’ defence. Any openings for the visitors were soon snuffed out by the tenacious Fulham players.
Irish winger Duff added a third shortly before the end to dissipate the chance of United rescuing an unlikely point. The jubiliant Fulham fans called for another with chants of “we want four” echoing around the ground.
The result means that Chelsea can gain increased daylight over United with victory tomorrow over West Ham United.
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