Match Analysis: Manchester United 3-2 Fulham

Old Trafford
© PA Photos
Sports Mole takes a closer look at today's Premier Division clash between Manchester United and Fulham.

Manchester United got their Premier League campaign up and running with a 3-2 win over Fulham at Old Trafford today.

Robin van Persie opened his account for the Red Devils with a sublime left-footed strike to cancel out Damien Duff's early opener.

Goals from Shinji Kagawa and Rafael followed to put the home side in a 3-1 lead at half-time.

A disastrous second-half own goal by Nemanja Vidic ensured a nervy finish, but United were able to hang on to record their first win of the new season.

Here, Sports Mole takes a closer look to see where the game was won and lost.

Match stats:

Manchester United:

Shots: 20
On target: 7
Possession: 60%
Corners: 8
Fouls: 12

Fulham:

Shots: 15
On target: 5
Possession: 40%
Corners: 8
Fouls: 7

Was the result fair?

It was certainly close, but if either team did enough to deserve the victory it was United. They controlled the first half, having gone a goal behind early on. Fulham went for it from 3-2 down with 20 minutes remaining and perhaps feel that they did enough to earn a point. However, they didn't put the ball in the onion bag, and that's what counts.

Manchester United's performance

They were efficient. Shinji Kagawa and Tom Cleverley were busy in midfield, always showing for the ball and giving defenders an option. United didn't quite click into gear, and when they showed signs of doing so they seemed to take their foot off the gas. Robin van Persie will be pleased with a great goal on his full home debut, but he needs to find range with his corners, as the standard today was quite woeful. Rafael was full of running and combined well with Antonio Valencia down the right.

Fulham's performance

Fulham gave a good account of themselves today. They will undoubtedly be disappointed not to have snatched a draw, but there are plenty of positives for Martin Jol to take from the game. They looked dangerous when going forward, and their passing was slick at times. However, it was defensive lapses in concentration that allowed United to do the damage. Moussa Dembele and Bryan Ruiz were stand-out performers for the Cottagers.

Sports Mole's man of the match:

Tom Cleverley: It was a toss-up between Cleverley and Kagawa, but I have opted for Cleverley because the Japan star has a goal to covet. By no means a second best, Cleverley can be happy with his Sports Mole man of the match award! It's well deserved, as he linked up nicely with Kagawa and was involved in a lot of what United did well today. He saw a decent effort whistle wide late in the game, which would have capped an assured performance in the centre of the park.

Biggest gaffe

This accolade goes to David De Gea for his part in Fulham's second goal. Despite the fact that Nemanja Vidic has been credited with the own goal, I feel that the Spaniard has to be the one to blame. The cross came in from the left and, as a defender, this is where you want your keeper to be storming out of his goal screaming his name. There must not have been a shout, because both men went for the ball and Vidic was unfortunate enough to glance it into his own goal.

Referee's performance

Kevin Friend had a quiet game, which is always nice (that goes for all referees, of course). The decisions were to rule Kagawa's goal onside, and Rafael's off. That is more of a credit to the assistant, of course, but there were no major talking points at Old Trafford.

What next?

Manchester United: Onwards and upwards? They travel to St Mary's next Sunday, where they will encounter a Southampton side who will surely be up for a spot of giant killing.

Fulham: The Cottagers can take plenty of confidence from today's performance into their next game, which is away at West Ham United next Saturday.

Robin Van Persie
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Result: Man United 3-2 Fulham
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