Fulham vs. Manchester United Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterNovember 2, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02: Luis Antonio Valencia of Manchester United (R) celebrates scoring the first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Manchester United at Craven Cottage on November 2, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie scored in a blistering first half as Manchester United won 3-1 at Fulham on Saturday in the Premier League.

United led 3-0 after 22 minutes and held on to win back-to-back matches in the league for the first time this season. Substitute Alexander Kacaniklic scored Fulham's only goal in the second half.

With the victory, United remained in eighth place but moved onto 17 points, five behind leaders Arsenal, who host Liverpool later Saturday. Fulham fell to 15th, having collected 10 points from 10 matches.

Manchester United manager David Moyes made four changes, bringing Rafael, Nemanja Vidic, Antonio Valencia and Adnan Januzaj into his starting XI. Phil Jones deputised for Michael Carrick, who missed out with an Achilles injury, in holding midfield.

Fulham manager Martin Jol, meanwhile, handed starts to former Manchester United players Dimitar Berbatov and Kieran Richardson. Ashkan Dejagah also started, while Darren Bent moved to the bench. 

United tore through Fulham's defence in the opening stages, repeatedly beating the Cottagers' high offside trap. By half-time, the visitors found themselves ahead 3-0.

Moyes' men needed little take to make the breakthrough, taking the lead in the ninth minute with a fine, flowing move. Van Persie held off the challenge of Fernando Amorebieta and slipped a pass through the Fulham defence for Wayne Rooney. 

Rooney dribbled into the box, then pulled up and picked out Antonio Valencia's late run at the far post. Valencia swept home for a 1-0 lead.

Van Persie doubled the lead in the 20th minute, finishing high at the near post from Adnan Januzaj's pass. Fulham were aggrieved by what they felt was a foul in the build-up, as Januzaj dispossessed Scott Parker in the midfield.

It was van Persie's 16th goal in his last 19 games and his 128th all-time in the Premier League, the most of any Dutch player. He has scored seven times in the last eight away league games and 15 times in all for club and country this season.

Two minutes later, it was 3-0.

Van Persie sprung the offside trap once again, racing onto Tom Cleverley's long pass from the midfield. Deep on the right side, van Persie picked out Rooney in the middle for another tap-in.

For Rooney, it made seven goals in his last seven matches against Fulham. His 10 goals all-time against Fulham are the most of any player in the Premier League.

Fulham created chances in the first half as well, but Berbatov had shots saved in the 19th and 29th minutes. 

With victory all but wrapped up by half-time, and with perhaps an eye on the fixture list, Moyes made three changes at the break. Shinji Kagawa, Chris Smalling and Marouane Fellaini entered, replacing Cleverley, Rafael and Jonny Evans.

Fulham pulled one back in the 65th minute, with Kacaniklic making a difference moments after entering the match. Kacaniklic cut in from the left and sent a shot toward goal. David De Gea looked to have it covered, but the ball deflected off Rooney and into the net.

But Fulham were unable to come any closer despite spells of pressure, and United came away with a confidence-building victory ahead of their upcoming matches at Real Sociedad (on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League) and at home to Arsenal (next Sunday in the Premier League).

In the closing moments, Fulham's Sascha Riether appeared to stamp on Januzaj as the two challenged for a ball in the corner.

 

Grades

Fulham
PlayerRating
Maarten Stekelenburg5
Sascha Riether6
Philippe Senderos5
Fernando Amorebieta5
Kieran Richardson6
Ashkan Dejagah5
Scott Parker6
Steve Sidwell7
Pajtim Kasami7
Bryan Ruiz6
Dimitar Berbatov6
SubstitutesRating
Alexander Kacaniklic7
Adel Taarabt6
Darren Bent6
BR UK
Manchester United
PlayerRating
David De Gea7
Rafael7
Jonny Evans7
Nemanja Vidic8
Patrice Evra7
Phil Jones7
Tom Cleverley7
Antonio Valencia9
Wayne Rooney8
Adnan Januzaj7
Robin van Persie8
SubstitutesGrade
Chris Smalling7
Marouane Fellaini7
Shinji Kagawa6
BR UK

 

Up next

Fulham play at Liverpool in the Premier League next Saturday.

Manchester United play at Real Sociedad in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, then host Arsenal in the Premier League next Sunday.