Man Utd vs Fulham FA Cup Fourth Round Match Report (Flightless Fulham fall to fierce Red Devils)By: Ian | January 27th, 2013
The third round against West Ham may have required a replay, but not many predicted anything other than a routine Utd win as the Reds went into the fourth round at home against Fulham. Even with many lower league teams still in the competition, Utd’s record of drawing Premier League opposition is quite consistent (11 out of the last 12 ties or something of this nature). Nevertheless, there was no need to fret as the team sheet was hardly weakened by the lineup of De Gea, Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Rooney and Hernandez. A bit of rest for Rio and Nemanja, and an afternoon off for RVP, but that’s not many changes. Utd were out to do the business, and they did it with aplomb.
Something was made of this match being Berbatov’s first reunion with his old side, but although he lined up for Fulham, it was Utd who put the pedal down first. Rooney, looked much more lively overall than in previous games, bore down on goal within a minute as Fulham lost the ball, the defence recovering enough to gift away only a corner. Unfortunately for them, it proved to be even more than that seconds later, as the inswinging ball was taken off the head of Smalling by the outstretched arm of Aaron Hughes. Don’t jump in the penalty box with your arms raised, we all know this, so the awarded penalty was hardly surprising. Giggs, with Rooney firmly off penalty duties for the time being thankfully, stepped up and despite Schwarzer’s best efforts, the 39-year old guided the ball past the 40-year old keeper (who says football is a young man’s game?!). 1-0 almost instantly.
Despite dominance by a Utd side only thinking of attacking, it would prove a fair wait before Fulham’s defence was broken again. However, they kept themselves busy by providing assistance for mainly Rooney and Nani to cause all sorts of problems. Another penalty should then maybe have been awarded as Giggs lofted the ball into the box and Duff guided it out again with his arm. A stroke of luck for Fulham, but they wouldn’t prove to have too many more.
Nani, desperately trying to make a good impression, struck the ball in again and again, but Schwarzer frustratingly kept them all out. Rooney’s subsequent stab attempt was also well saved. A Sascha Riether long-range effort was the extent of Fulham’s response. This brought to a close the first half, with Utd just one, annoying, stage away from everything clicking. The rest provided the required snap and Utd started the second half like a runaway train. Hughes attoned for his earlier error by clearing Rooney’s attempt away from the line, but no one could do anything about the next move. The bustling Anderson threaded a well-paced ball through to Rooney, who clipped it inside the defender, Hughes again, to face goal. Without further invitation, he gave the ball the boot and it sailed in for a beautiful second goal.
The third came just 120s later. Hughes, again (Fulham did have other defenders on the pitch, honest), only cleared Nani’s cross into an area for the winger to pick the ball up for a second attempt. This found Rooney, who delicately played in Hernandez, who finished the move with a sweeping shot. 3-0 and very firmly game over.
Rodallega and Scholes entered the fray, and although Rodallega enlivened Fulham’s proceedings as much as he could, it made no significant difference. The fourth came in the 65th minute, with Jones heading on for Giggs. The Welshman released Chicharito, who cut inside and, with a stroke of luck in the deflection, made it four with Schwarzer helplessly flailing backwards. 4-0.
Hughes, getting 10/10 for involvement at least, if not quality, managed to balance his day out a little by heading home at the near post following a 77th minute corner, but the game was well wrapped up by now. So much so that a fifth goal by Rooney, which was chalked off after Hernandez had apparent fouled in the build-up, produced hardly a reaction by the crowd, many of whom, in a sad desperation to either get to the car park first or who are just not interested in getting full value for their ticket, were heading for the exits. To their credit, Fulham’s fans stayed where they were until the whistle.
So, 4-1 overall, and a very easy game against a toothless Fulham. The fifth round draw will be made later today, which I will try to bring up as soon as possible, with many big teams still left: Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, all possibilities. Personally, I fancy a game against Luton, who produced an excellent display yesterday to ditch Norwich out of the cup. Too many Premier League draws and it’s like a different competition. But anyway, great performance for now.
Thoughts and comments below.