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The game marked the start of a very important week for the domestic, European and World Champions who will be taking on Inter Milan on Wednesday and Liverpool on Saturday – in what could prove to be a title clincher. United went into the game knowing that they had beaten Fulham 3-0 the season previous – however their record in the capital hasn’t been great.
The first twenty minutes were sloppy with both sides giving the ball away far too cheaply. Fulham began hustling United, pressing them wherever possible, which led to Michael Carrick losing the ball in his own half – which resulted in a Fulham chance, whilst Nemanja Vidic saved the blushes of Edwin Van Der Sar with a clearance off the line after the Dutch goalkeeper had misread an long ball punted forward – which was touched forward by the leg of Andy Johnson. Van Der Sar came storming out and the ball embarrassingly started to roll pass him. Vidic read the situation and cleared well although it was a heart stopping moment for United.
At the other end Carlos Tevez had a low shot saved by Mark Schwarzer after a mix up in defense by Fulham. Rooney, who along with Tevez were menacing all evening, played a through ball to the Argentinian forward who struck low to Schwarzer’s right. The keep made a decent stop but it was an encouraging start from the away side.
United scored on the twentieth minute when Carlos Tevez nodded home a Wayne Rooney flick from a corner. The Argentinian has been frustrated this season with his lack of playing time – although he has now played as many games as Cristiano Ronaldo. Tevez has scored in the league, Champions League, Carling Cup and now the FA Cup. The goal marked his sixth of the campaign and got United playing.
In between the first and second goal, United showed their true class with some sublime one touch football – which fashioned chances for Wayne Rooney and John O’shea. Wayne Rooney was unlucky with one of his chance – which he poked just wide of the goal, however should have finished the second. United created an opening on the right, in which Ji-Sung Park ran into crossing low for the onrushing Rooney. Rooney passed the ball past Schwarzer, who had dived to the left, and it smashed the post. Rooney really should have scored.
The second goal came fifteen minutes after the first when Carlos Tevez scored a quite superb goal. Tevez picked the ball up on the half way line and began charging towards the Fulham goal. He then cut inside to get onto his right foot before unleashing an unstoppable shot past the Fulham keeper – a brilliant solo goal. The cries of ‘Fergie sign him up’ have been heard in many games recently and after today’s showing it is evident that the player has an abundance of talent.
United went into the half time break with a two goal lead, although lost their captain Rio Ferdinand through injury – who is now a major doubt for the game with Inter Milan on Wednesday night. Jonny Evans, who has been in superb form this season, came on to replace the injured defender. Ferdinand wasn’t United only injury concern – with John O’Shea picking up a hamstring injury, which definitely rules the versatile Irishman out of the game.
United picked up where they left off with Rooney adding a third on the fifty minute mark. Rooney and Tevez were interchanging passes until the ball was eventually intercepted. Fulham failed to clear their lines and Anderson pounced on a loose ball and the Brazilian fed Rooney. Rooney turned onto his right and struck a low curling shot into the bottom corner. It was Rooney’s sixteenth of the season.
United could then sit back and relax and rest some players. Young Eckersley replaced the injured John O’Shea at right back whilst Danny Welbeck came onto replace Wayne Rooney. Rooney is still finding his way back to full fitness – however looked very sharp tonight and will be a definite started alongside, probably, Dimitar Berbatov. Ji- Sung Park rounded off the scoring with nine minutes to play after intercepting a pass from Fulham’s left hand side to the right. Park ran in to intercept before placing a right footed shot into the Fulham net.
United started off sluggish, however really showed their worth after the first twenty minutes. United even looked like they could go up a few more gears as the business end of the season kicks in. Sir Alex Ferguson will be delighted that United are into the final four and will be looking forward to the draw tomorrow. Rooney and Tevez were superb with Anderson showing maturity and vision with his superb range of passing. Inter Milan are next up, which hopefully proves to be a superb, but nervous, night.