Man United’s visit to Craven Cottage could be one of those games we look back on, as a turning point in the Barclays Premier League season. It is noteworthy that while United have managed to pick up victories, they have struggled to score goals following Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent insistence on “shoring up the back.” A few will point to United’s 4-1 mauling of Wolves as an even earlier sign of improvement, but that particular victory was claimed at home, and United were fueled by the frustrations of being dumped out of the UEFA Champions League in the group stages. The win away to Fulham however, was purely an indication of a top team finding form and whose top players were once again showing their class.
The match began with a bang for United. Nani escaped down the left wing and after running a full 50 yards, squared for the every improving Danny Welbeck to tuck home the opener. On 28 minutes, Nani himself got on the scoresheet when he scored a rare header, assisted by a fabulous cross from the evergreen Ryan Giggs. Two minutes before the break, Nani returned the favor, setting up Giggs to score for a record 20 consecutive Premier League seasons, his deflected drive looping over a stranded David Stockdale.
In the second half, Fulham attacked with more purpose as United took their foot off the gas. The Cottagers fashioned some decent scoring opportunities but they were extremely wasteful. As the match wound down with Man United in firm control, Wayne Rooney and second half substitute Dimitar Berbatov rubbed salt into the wound. Rooney scored a swerving pile driver from 25 yards out in the 88th minute and two minutes later, Berbatov netted with an audacious backheel following a cross from Antonio Valencia. The only sour notes for United were the two injuries picked up by Phil Jones and Ashley Young. Jones is expected to be back for the visit of Wigan in the following match, but Young coud be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.