Top of the match: Antonnio Valencia (Manchester United)
Flop of the match: Hugo Rodallega (Fulham)
New comers, Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa scored for Manchester united on their home debuts as red devils worked hard to earn their first victory of the season with a hard-fought 3-2 win against the cottagers.
Duff gave the surprise lead for the visitors within 3 minutes of the start from the cleverly taken free-kick by Ruiz, but the stunning half-volley from the former Arsenal striker, Van Persie and close range finishes off Kagawa and Rafael had put the home side on commanding position at the end of first half. Vidic’s own goal in the middle of second half was not enough for Fulham to earn points at Old Trafford.
Alex Ferguson made 4 changes in his team which started against Everton on last Monday. Rafael’s return gave the opportunity for Valencia to play in his favorite right wing; Anderson made his return to play in the centre of midfield for Scholes; Young was opted to play ahead of Nani and the impressive Rooney was replaced by Van Persie. Carrick was given the role to play in the heart of defense with Vidic, once again.
Whereas, visiting manager Martin Jol made just one change in his team by replacing injured Norway defender, John Arne Riise with 21-year old, Mathew Briggs in the left back. US attacker, Clint Dempsey who was strongly linked with a move to Liverpool hadn’t featured for Fulham once again.
After the defeat against Toffees, red devils were doubtlessly in need of the wiining result, but what had happened in the initial minutes of the game was definitely not the part of their script. Petric’s clever run outside the left corner of the box led the way for new defender, Carrick to make a needless foul on him. It was Bryan Ruiz who stepped up to take the free-kick. His clever low delivery found Duff and the Irish man provided the shock lead for visitors inside the 3 minutes on clock.
Thinking to defend their early lead, Fulham played with defensive mind-set with most of their players packed on the back. The hosts continued to push forward to find the equalizer and it was no surprise that they found the equalizer in the 12th minute of the game. Though it was a poor cross from Evra to find Van Persie, the Dutchman came up with an excellent half-volley with his favored left-foot to pass Schwarzer to find the right corner of net. After that strike, the hosts were trying to find their original attacking pace at Old Trafford, but at the same point of time, Fulham were growing and tightening themselves up to deny the hosts to score.
In the 25th minute of the game, Briggs’ ended in a poor pass which led to United’s counter-attack, heavily orchestrated by Kagawa. Kagawa found Young near the left corner of the box and the English winger hopelessly shoot it well over the top of the bar.
In the 35th minute of the game, visitors might have thought that they have done well enough to clear Van Persie’s corner; but the clearance directly found Cleverley in the edge of the box and it was Cleverly who shot towards the goal. Though Fulham keeper, Schwarzer done well to stop the thunderous shot, he failed to hold the ball with him and Kagawa made the bounced ball to find the net to provide the lead for the hosts.
Though it was a piece of luck for the home side to take the lead, the manner which they capitalized on it underlined their efficiency. 6 minutes of their second goal, Ashley Young’s brilliant ball from the left corner of the box found Rafael and the Brazlian’s perfectly headed to find the net to make the scoreline as 3-1 in favor of the hosts.
The second half went underway with Fulham looking very dangerous as they made crucial runs near the box especially in the opening 15 mins of the restart. An unexpected lucky goal for Fulham brought them into the game. A hopeless cross from Petric from left side tempted De Gea to provide a needless punch on the ball. The confusion between De Gea and Vidic paved the way for an own goal in helping Fulham to reduce the deficit. After the own goal, Fulham looked more energetic and pressed to attack.
In the 70th minute of the game, it was Dembele who made the fine run towards the goal and the Belgian found his thunderous shot saved by De Gea. By this time, Welbeck and Rooney came into the field in the place of Young and Kagawa. The hosts hadn’t came up with such noticeable attacks in the last 20 mins of the game and it seemed to be they would have surrendered two points to the cottagers in the dying minutes of the game, as De Gea made plenty of good saves.
Despite of earning two points, it was not the good news for Red Devils as Rooney was caught late by Rodallega in the dying moments of the game, with the striker stretchered off with a deep gash.