Manchester United recorded a relatively comfortable 3-1 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The visitors raced into a 3-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, who all made the most of Fulham’s defensive frailties to heap the pressure on Martin Jol.
Substitute Alexander Kacaniklic pulled one back for the hosts, who piled on the pressure in the closing stages, just after the hour mark - but in the end it was a deserved three points for the reigning Premier League champions.
The home side started fairly positively, Pajtim Kasami testing David De Gea with a low strike, but that was about as good as it got in the first half for the Cottagers.
Jol’s side struggled without their injured captain Brede Hangeland. A series of errors from Fernando Amorebieta and Philippe Senderos cost Fulham three goals inside 12 nightmare minutes.
First to profit was Valencia, who tapped home after Rooney broke the offside trap on the tenth minute, while Van Persie doubled the Premier League champions’ advantage ten minutes later with an excellent strike into the roof of the net after being played in by Adnan Januzaj.
Before Fulham even had a chance to regroup it was 3-0 - Rooney scoring less than two minutes later, this time from a Van Persie cutback, to stun their opponents.
Barring a Dimitar Berbatov strike, which forced a decent save from De Gea midway through the first half, the Fulham supporters had little to cheer about - and they made their feelings crystal clear when referee Lee Probert blew for half-time, booing their side’s inept display.
But while the sight of the half-time cheerleaders may not have been able to raise spirits, the sight of Kasami firing narrowly wide after the break at least provided some optimism around Craven Cottage.
That happened minutes after United boss David Moyes has made a rare triple substitution at the start of the second half, with Jonny Evans, Rafael and Tom Cleverley making way for Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini and Shinji Kagawa.
Fulham went on to pull a goal back on the 65th minute when Kacaniklic’s strike deflected off Rooney and past the helpless De Gea.
That inspired the home team, who sensed they could salvage something from the match, and they felt they should have had a penalty in the closing stages when Adel Taarabt went down under a challenge by Nemanja Vidic.
However, Probert waved play-on, and although Darren Bent hit bar on 85th minute and Berbatov went close on the 88th, this was a deserved three points for Moyes’ men.
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