Live Commentary: Manchester United 4-1 Fulham - as it happened

Live Commentary: Manchester United 4-1 Fulham - as it happened
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Manchester United advanced in the FA Cup thanks to a 4-1 win over Fulham. Find out how the match unfolded with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates.

Fulham made the trip to Old Trafford for an FA Cup tie this evening with a less than impressive record against their hosts in Manchester.

What transpired went with the history books as goals from Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez (2) eased Manchester United into round five of the FA Cup with minimal fuss.

Aaron Hughes scored late in match for the Whites, but his effort was no more than a mere consolation.

You can find out how the match unfolded with our minute-by-minute commentary below.

4.31pmAfternoon all. It's been a busy old weekend here on Sports Mole and it's not finished yet. Now, we have Manchester United vs. Fulham, who will battle it out for the right to progress through to round five of this season's FA Cup.

4.34pmAs mentioned in the introduction, history suggests that this should be routine victory for the home team (sorry Fulham fans). After all, the Whites have only won two of 36 matches between the two teams at Old Trafford. It's probably fair to say that the Fulham faithful that have made the trip have done so more in hope than expectation.

4.37pmIt's not as if they can cling to the fact that their manager, Martin Jol, has a good record against United from his previous jobs. The Dutchman has actually never got the better of Sir Alex Ferguson. Mind you, it wouldn't be a bad day to stop the rot, would it?

4.38pmAnyway, that's enough of the statistics and facts for a few minutes because the team news from Old Trafford is with us...

4.39pmMAN UNITED X1: De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs; Rooney, Hernandez

4.41pmIt's time to issue another apology to Fulham supporters! It was mentioned in the introduction that Ferguson was going to rest a few players. He has - but only Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Apart from that, it's a relatively strong lineup for United. Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney have all been included.

4.42pmFULHAM X1: Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Baird, Kacaniklic; Ruiz; Berbatov

4.45pmThe big news as far as Fulham are concerned is that Dimitar Berbatov has been named in the lineup to face his former employers. He will be supported by Bryan Ruiz, while Chris Baird will feature in a midfield role.

4.49pmTalking of Berbatov, his stint at Craven Cottage has been a mixed one so far. He left Old Trafford in the summer and made an immediate impact with a handful of goals and assists in a white shirt. However, since then he has cut a forlorn and lonely figure at times. He's often seen in the opposition's half throwing his arms up in the air in frustration.

4.53pmThe Bulgarian was also dubbed a disappointment by many for his contribution to United during his four years with the club. However, Ferguson was having none of that when he was asked if Berbatov had been a failure in the red shirt.

"I don’t think Dimitar was a failure here. Some people like to see players run through brick walls all the time. Dimitar is not that type of player but he is very talented and he had a decent goalscoring record here."

4.57pmOne of the reasons that Berbatov finally moved on is because of a lack of opportunities. Looking at United's lineup today, it's hardly surprising that he struggled for matches. Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck have not been included and yet Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez both start.

5.01pmStaying with Rooney, he has good goalscoring record in the FA Cup. The England frontman has made 27 appearances in the competition for United and has a return of 15 goals. There's nothing shabby about that record. Fulham will no doubt be looking to prevent him from adding to that tally tonight.

5.05pmOf course, if Rooney doesn't deliver the goods today, the likes of Van Persie and Welbeck are among the substitutes today. Here are both benches:

MAN UNITED: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Scholes, Valencia, Kagawa, Welbeck, van Persie

FULHAM: Senderos, Petric, Karagounis, Briggs, Rodallega, Dejagah, Etheridge

5.10pmAnother United player that has been in the press this week is David de Gea. The 22-year-old goalkeeper was roundly criticised for a poor punch during last weekend's clash with Tottenham Hotspur. However, once again, Ferguson's loyalty lies with the player.

"It's been over the top. It is always over the top when it comes to criticism here," said Ferguson. "You have to listen to some idiots in the game. I am not interested in discussing it because we know it is unfounded."

5.14pmAnd it appears that Ferguson has tried to show De Gea that he has faith in him by starting him today. All the rumours leading up to this tie suggested that he was going to be dropped in favour of Anders Lindegaard, but Ferguson has stuck by his shot stopper.

5.20pmA quick weather check and for Manchester, it's not too bad at all! They've had their fair share of snow, but the pitch is clear and looking in better condition than when West Ham visited last week.

5.25pmRight then, the players are on their way out. Not long until we are off and running here at Old Trafford...

5.30pmThe hosts, kicking from left to right, get this encounter started...


2 minWhat has Aaron Hughes done?! For some strange reason he has handled the ball inside the Fulham area and Mark Clattenburg had to give a penalty. Ryan Giggs will take it...

2 minGOAL! Man United 1-0 Fulham (Giggs, pen)

4 minThe evergreen Giggs never seems to get flustered does he? Mark Schwarzer got both hands to the Welshman's penalty, but it was too powerful and crept into the net to give United an early lead. What an awful start for Fulham - it could be a long evening ahead.

8 minHughes committed that handball with just 40 seconds on the clock. You can imagine that Martin Jol will be fuming. The last thing he said to his players before they went out was probably: 'Don't concede early.' Not only have they done that, they've also handed it to United on a plate!

11 minIt's been all United ever since they took the lead. They haven't created too many more chances, but you get the impression that more goals will follow if they keep going like this. Fulham have to hold out otherwise they could take a hiding here.

15 minRemember what I said about the Manchester weather being okay? Well it's now pouring down with rain! That didn't last long, did it?! Still, it will probably favour United if the pace of pitch picks up a little.

19 minPENALTY APPEAL! Fulham can count themselves extremely lucky not to have conceded a second penalty. Patrice Evra was in on goal, only to see the ball change direction via the arm of Damian Duff. However, Mark Clattenburg turned down the appeals. That was more blatant than Hughes's handball!

21 minOFF THE BAR! So close for Rooney, who controls a powerful cross from Nani before shooting goalwards. Credit to Schwarzer as he managed to get his foot to the ball to send it up into the air and to safety courtesy of the crossbar. It's all United at the moment.

24 minSAVE! If I was Schwarzer, I'd be wanting some decent overtime pay tonight! On this occasion he had to dive to his left to deny a low shot from Nani. Moments later the United winger has another attempt from inside the area, but can only curl the ball wide.

26 minSAVE! The Fulham defence really need to start closing down the United attackers. This time it's Rooney who tries his luck from 20 yards out, but once again Schwarzer gets his body behind the ball to hold.

27 minMichael Owen is obviously a Giggs fan. Here's what he has just posted on Twitter:

"How good is Giggs? Considering he used to be a flying winger, how he has changed his game and remained at the top is phenomenal."

31 minSAVE! Another Man United shot and another save from Schwarzer. It's Rooney who is again denied by the veteran keeper as he swept a shot goalwards following a low cross by Giggs. It looks to be a only a matter of time before United score again.

32 minCHANCE! First real effort for Fulham is had by full-back Sascha Riether, who having weighed up his options, sends a grass-cutting effort skidding just a yard beyond De Gea's post. At least it's a sign of intent from the Whites.

35 minOne player that has been unusually quiet for United is Hernandez. Normally when the Red Devils are dominant like this, he's heavily involved. However, he's barely had a touch so far. With the likes of Van Persie and Welbeck on the bench, the Mexican must make an impact when he gets the chance.

39 minFulham are actually enjoying a bit more possession at the moment. The trouble is, they don't have a lot of pace in the team to cause the United defence problems. The ball is being worked up to Berbatov or Ruiz, neither of whom are what you call speed merchants.

43 minCHANCE! It's Nani's turn to have a poke at goal following a short corner, but he sends the ball well wide of the target from a narrow angle. Looking at a replay, he should have used his left foot to strike that. As it was, the ball was always curling away from goal.

45 minWe'll have at least one minute of stoppage time...

6.18pmHALF-TIME: Man United 1-0 Fulham

6.20pmWell, the good news for Fulham is that they only trail 1-0! They've been thoroughly outplayed for large parts of that half and have their goalkeeper Schwarzer to thank for keeping them in this tie. But for the Aussie, United would be three or four up by now.

6.24pmFormer England captain Jimmy Armfield, working for BBC Radio Five Live, has summed that half up pretty perfectly:

"Both managers will have a little contentment about the first half. Manchester United's Alex Ferguson because his side area a goal ahead - and it could have been two or three.

"But also Martin Jol, because his team improved after a dreadful start. Can they get back into the game? We will see."

6.27pmJust seen another replay of the penalty that was awarded to United. What an earth was Hughes doing? Granted he was under pressure from Chris Smalling, but there was no need for Hughes's arm to be up in the air.

6.28pmIt seems as though Fulham are expecting even more of an onslaught after the break. Schwarzer was has come out early for the second half and is having shots pelted at him by the Fulham substitutes while his teammates are still in the dressing room. You very rarely see that!

6.32pmBut what can Fulham do to swing the tie in their favour? Well, it's going to be hard, but maybe the introduction of Hugo Rodallega could help them. Granted he's inconsistent, but he possesses the pace and power that Fulham are currently lacking in the final third.

6.35pmSUBSTITUTION: Fulham are making a swap, but it's not Rodallega coming on. Instead, the experienced Greek midfielder Georgios Karagounis has replaced Chris Baird as the second half gets underway...

47 minCHANCE! At the start of the first half, Hughes cost his side a goal. Well, at the start of the second half he has saved them one. Rooney's shot from close range was heading for the net until the Irishman retreated to hack clear off the line.

49 minGOAL! Man United 2-0 Fulham (Rooney)

50 minAnd that should be game over! Anderson is the creator, slotting a pass through the Fulham defence for Rooney, whose control was instant. He then stepped inside, before lashing the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net from the edge of the area. It's no more than United deserve to be honest.

51 minGOAL! Man United 3-0 Fulham (Hernandez)

53 minWell if the tie wasn't over after Rooney's goal, it is now! This time Rooney turned the provider, drilling in a cross for Hernandez, who was never going to miss from six yards out. It's his trademark. It could be a long 37 minutes or so for the away side now.

56 minIf truth be told, Fulham looked a beaten team as they re-emerged for the second half. Their heads were down and there has been no urgency during the opening few minutes. And the less said about their defending, the better!

61 minSUBSTITUTION: First switch for United as veteran midfielder Paul Scholes comes on in place of Michael Carrick, who has been given a rest. Fulham also make a change as Duff is replaced by Hugo Rodallega.

66 minGOAL! Man United 4-0 Fulham (Hernandez)

69 minThe little Mexican was born to score goals! He cut inside Hughes, whose evening goes from bad to worse when Hernandez's low effort squirms into the corner of the net following a deflection off the Irish defender. This must be one of the worst performance the usually dependable Hughes has produced in a long, long time.

71 minSUBSTITUTION: Double swap for United now as Anderson and Giggs are given a rest, with Shinji Kagawa and Antonio Valencia entering the pitch. Fulham also make their third switch of the match as Ruiz is hooked in favour of Ashkan Dejagah.

75 minCHANCE! Hernandez has never scored a hat-trick for United and he won't get many better chances than the one he just failed to convert. He collected the ball 12 yards from goal, but his curled effort went harmlessly over the crossbar. He's angry with himself because he knows that it was a good opportunity.

77 minGOAL! Man United 4-1 Fulham (Hughes)

79 minOn a personal level Hughes needed that, for his own sanity if nothing else! Everything was going wrong for the experienced defender, but he's headed in at the near post to redeem himself...slightly! That's the ninth goal of his 16-year career.

83 minDISALLOWED GOAL! Rooney thinks he's got his second of the night and doesn't look too happy when Clattenburg blows up for a foul, as you can imagine. It's a harsh decision as well because Hernandez barely touched Hughes as Rooney fired in. That's an escape as far as Fulham are concerned.

86 minCHANCE! At least substitute Dejagah is showing some fighting spirit for Fulham. The winger drives into the United area, but sees his powerful shot defelcted for a corner, which comes to nothing. Had the whole Fulham squad had his attitude, they may produced more of a contest.

90 minThere are two minutes of stoppage time for the away side to endure...

90+2 minFULL TIME: Man United 4-1 Fulham

7.20pmUnited are into the last 16 of a competition that they have not won since 2004. They were impressive today, albeit against poor opposition. Still, you can only beat what is put in front of you.

7.22pmFrom a Fulham point of view, Martin Jol will have to get his players up for a very important Premier League match at home to West Ham United on Wednesday. He'll be looking for them to draw a line under this one and move on as soon as possible.

7.25pmThat's all we have time for from Old Trafford. Thanks for joining us this evening and be sure to check out our analysis of the action, which will be with you shortly.

Rio Ferdinand receives medical treatment to his cut head on December 9, 2012
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