Live Commentary: Fulham 1-3 Manchester United - as it happened

Find out how Manchester United overcame Fulham at Craven Cottage courtesy of Sports Mole's text updates.

Manchester United made the trip to Fulham this afternoon looking to record back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time this season.

They did so thanks to three goals in the first half from Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

Hosting Fulham rallied after the restart and reduced the arrears when Rooney diverted Alexander Kacaniklic's shot into his own net, but it failed to spark a comeback from the Londoners.

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

2.02pmAfternoon all. Thankfully, it's the weekend again, which means that the Premier League is back! Here we've got a match between two clubs that need the victory for different reasons - Fulham and Manchester United. It should make for an entertaining encounter.

2.04pmWell, Man United are at Craven Cottage, but who will be in their starting lineup? We shall know very soon.

2.06pmRight, the teams new is now out. Let's start with United...

2.07pmMAN UNITED XI: De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Jones, Cleverley, Janzuaj; Rooney, Van Persie

2.08pmMAN UNITED SUBS: Smalling, Lindegaard, Hernandez, Nani, Young, Kagawa, Fellaini

2.11pmThere had been some talk during the week that Javier Hernandez may start, but the Mexican, who has scored three goals in his last two outings, is on the bench. Midfielder Michael Carrick has also not been included because of injury. Meanwhile, captain Nemanja Vidic has returned to the starting lineup following a spell out, which has seen Phil Jones push into the heart of the midfield.

2.13pmAnd now for the hosts...

2.15pmFULHAM XI: Stekelenburg; Riether, Senderos, Amorebieta, Richardson; Dejagah, Sidwell, Parker, Kasami; Ruiz; Berbatov

2.16pmFULHAM SUBS: Stockdale, Hughes, Karagounis, Kacaniklic, Boateng, Taarabt, Bent

2.18pmFormer United players Kieran Richardson and Dimitar Berbatov start for the home side, with latter taking the captain's armband. He will play as a lone striker, with attacking midfielder Bryan Ruiz providing the support. Elsewhere, Ashkan Dejagah has been given a starting role on the wing, but Darren Bent is only named as a substitute.

2.22pmAs mentioned in the introduction, Fulham have not enjoyed taking on Man United of late. The away side have won the last six matches between the two teams and are unbeaten in eight. Their manager Martin Jol also has a poor record against the Red Devils. On paper, it doesn't look good for the hosts, but luckily for them, football isn't played that way!

2.26pmThe last time that Fulham did get the better of United came back in December 2009 at the Cottage. It proved to be a famous day for the Londoners, who won through 3-0. You can relive that match below:

2.30pmSome great news for both of these teams coming from Tyneside. Fulham's London rivals and United's fellow title challengers, Chelsea, are losing 2-0 away at Newcastle United. That match is now in stoppage time - not even Jose Mourinho can inspire a comeback, surely!

2.33pmFrom United's point of view, a win today would be massive in light of the Chelsea result. They will be just three points behind the Blues, who were deemed to have a decent start to the new campaign. That is bound to have done David Moyes's team talk for him.

2.37pmTalking of Moyes, here is what he has been saying about his side's recent form in the days leading up to this clash: "It's a gap we have to try to work to get closer to. We'll take one game at a time and try to start getting a bit closer to the top end. That's the plan but there's a long way to go," he told reporters.

"We've started to put together one or two half decent results and hopefully that starts to build a bit of momentum.

"We've been a little bit up and down at the start of the season, winning one, losing one, so we're hoping to get a bit more consistency and then our form follows with that."

2.40pmMeanwhile, his opposite number Jol has been busying defending his skipper Berbatov, who has come in for a lot of criticism for his performances of late:

"Dimitar should do better than he did before. I have enough experience with him, he is always someone who will score one in two or one in three, but don't forget that he has had to do a different job for the team," he told Get West London.

"He has had to play in the hole and he's probably more like a number nine who likes his freedom. Of course, he's not a real box player like the big target man in England, but he's certainly a goal scorer.

"If he wasn't here last season, we would have had a problem, especially after Clint Dempsey left. He was our main goalscorer so Berbatov knows that he is an important player to us but he must come up with the goods."

2.44pmStaying with Fulham, their full-back Sascha Riether is in confident mood. The stats might not back him up, but here's what he told the club's official website: "Manchester United are the reigning champions, but in recent years we have a good record against them at the Cottage. Last year we ran them close, with Wayne Rooney's late goal the difference on the day. It would be nice to be part of another memorable victory, and I believe that we have a chance."

2.49pmPREDICTION: Right, with not long now until we get underway, let's have a stab (probably hopelessly) at guessing the outcome of this one. Neither side has exactly been watertight at the back so far this season, so hopefully we will see goals. The fact is, United have better attackers, so you'd expect them to claim the points. Let's say 2-1 to the visitors with Wayne Rooney getting his name among the scorers.

2.53pmSome positive news on the weather front from Craven Cottage:

2.56pmHere come the players then to a loud reception, mainly from the away fans it must be said. Moyes applauds them as he makes his way to the dugout. That Chelsea result has made this match even bigger for United - can they deal with the pressure?

1 minGAME ON! Right then - visiting United, attacking from right to left, get this Premier League encounter off and running.

3 minSAVE! It's been a positive start from Fulham and they've just worked David de Gea, who showed good hands. Pajtim Kasami cut in from the left and fired goalwards from the edge of the area, but De Gea is down early to hold.

7 minIt must be said that Fulham have looked much the brighter so far. They've just broken into the United area, but Rafael da Silva produces a last-ditch slide tackle to clear the danger. We've seen nothing of the away side as an attacking threat yet.


9 minRooney really is in top form right now. Here he collects possession from Robin van Persie, before drawing the Fulham defence and keeper Maarten Stekelenburg towards him. From there, he shows great awareness to square the ball for Antonio Valencia, who has the simple task of rolling into an empty net. That was United's first real attack!

13 minThe home fans seem a little dejected by that goal. They were offering encouragement early on, but now all you can hear is the United support. They are going to need to get behind their team because right now it's all United.

17 minThat's a bit better from Fulham, as Berbatov shows some effort to get beyond the United defence. In the end Vidic does well to force him towards the corner flag, but it's a sign of intent that has been lacking massively from the Bulgarian in recent weeks. If Fulham are going to get anything from this game, you'd imagine that he will be involved.

19 minCHANCES! Big double chance for Fulham, who will feel that they should be level. First Berbatov has the ball taken from beneath him by Rafael as a goal looked inevitable. Then, from the resultant corner, Steve Sidwell somehow heads wide of the target from six yards out. Will they regret those misses?


20 minYes they are going to regret it! The so far quiet Adnan Januzaj picks out Van Persie inside the area. That often spells danger for the opposition and so it proves as the Dutchman fires his left footed effort high into the Fulham net. Game over already?


22 minIf it wasn't game over, it is now! Van Persie and Rooney put doubts about their relationship to one side as the former rolls the ball across the face of the goal for the latter, who was never going to miss from there. Rooney now has 10 goals against Fulham - more than any other club. They must be sick of the sight of the England international!

27 minIt's got to be said, some of the body language among the Fulham team is not good enough. Not everybody appears to be given 100% to the cause and almost all the heads have dropped. They must respond because this could get embarrassing if they don't.

30 minSAVE! That's better from Fulham as their creative players finally show some interest. Ruiz flicks the ball into the path of Berbatov, who spins Vidic. He then shoots from the edge of the area, but De Gea has read his intention and holds the ball.

33 minBOOKING! The first yellow of the game goes to Dejagah, who is making his maiden Premier League start of the season. He can have few complaints either because he clearly hacked down Tom Cleverley as the United midfielder looked to start a counter-attack.

37 minIt looked as though United were going to be forced into an early change as Rafael went down clutching his ankle following a challenge with Kasami. On comes the stretcher and several paramedics, but moments later the Brazilian is up and running around as if nothing has happened! Not sure why so much medical attention was required.

41 minAlmost a fourth for United, who are enjoying so much freedom down the right flank. Rooney gets his head up and drills in an inviting cross for Van Persie. Unfortunately for the visitors, he can't quite reach the ball and it skids wide of the target.

45 minIt appears that it's game over for United's Cleverley, who seems to be struggling with his vision. There was no indication that he took a knock. He's back on, but it would be a surprise to see him return after the break. Meanwhile, there will be four minutes of stoppage time.


3.55pmWell, Moyes could not have dreamed of a better 45 minutes for his side. They've been fluent in attack and have looked like scoring every time they have gone forward. Perhaps even more pleasing for Moyes is the fact that they have also been relatively solid in defence.

3.58pmIn contrast, Jol looked rather deflated as he trudged across the Craven Cottage turf. Whatever is he going to say to his players in the next few minutes? Maybe try and win the second half because that's probably the best that they can hope for.

3.59pmNot good signs for Jol:

46 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Well, this is a bit of a shock. Moyes has made three substitutions at the break! Cleverley, Rafael and Evans have all come off, with Shinji Kagawa, Chris Smalling and Marouane Fellaini are given 45 minutes. Let's hope for Moyes's sake there isn't an injury! The second half is underway...

48 minCHANCE! Positive signs from Fulham as Kasami hits the ball cleanly towards goal from 25 yards out after Kagawa surrenders possession. De Gea's dive suggests that he always had the ball covered as it slides wide of the target, but he was worried enough to ensure that it was safe.

52 minBOOKING! The first yellow of the encounter for United and it is goalscorer Valencia that receives. Other referees may have left him off, but he did catch Kasami on the ankle. To be honest it was a needless foul to commit because the Fulham winger was going nowhere.

56 minIt's easy for United at the moment as they stroke the ball around the pitch with minimal fuss. Rooney, as you'd expect, is at the centre of everything good. You get the impression that there is more goals in this match for United, that's if they push hard enough. Sometimes in this scenario teams sit back and settle for what they've got.

59 minBOOKING! The most obvious caution you will see this weekend - guaranteed! Fernando Amorebieta is the culprit as he sticks out an arm to stop Valencia, who was in full flight. The Fulham defender doesn't bother to argue, he knew the yellow card was coming.

62 minSUBSTITUTION: The first change of the afternoon for the home side as Swedish international Alexander Kacaniklic is hoisted on by Jol. He's replaced Dejagah, who looked someway short of being match fit.

64 minCHANCE! A good opportunity for Fellaini to score his first United goal as he rises highest at the back post to meet Rooney's free kick. He headers the ball downwards, but it's diverted into the side netting by Amorebieta.


65 minRooney has been absolutely everywhere today, but Moyes and United must have wished that he had stayed out of his own area. Although well struck, Kacaniklic's shot from distance was not going to trouble De Gea. A sliding Rooney makes contact with the ball, though, and sends it rolling into the net past a helpless De Gea. Game on perhaps?

68 minSAVE! A decent response from United courtesy of a move involving five players. It ends with Patrice Evra threading a neat pass through for Januzaj, who sees his instant shot held by Stekelenburg in the Fulham goal. Maybe the Fulham goal has woken the visitors up.

72 minSince the goal, Rooney has been drawn out to the right flank by Moyes. It seems as though the United manager is keen for his team to be a little tighter, rather than gung-ho. They are seeing plenty of the ball, but aren't really going anywhere with it.

75 minSUBSTITUTION: A few ironic cheers go up around the Cottage as Ruiz's number goes up on the board. The home faithful are obviously not too fond of the Costa Rican. He's been replaced by Adel Taarabt.

78 minSome potentially bad news for United as Jones appears to have picked up a knock following a challenge in the middle of the pitch with Kasami. It looks as though he's hurt his thigh. Remember, United have used all three of their substitutions.

82 minThere has been much more energy and belief about Fulham's play since the restart, but time is running out for them. Since they scored, they've struggled to create any other clear chance of note. It appears, at the moment at least, that United are going to pick up the three points relatively comfortably.

85 minSUBSTITUTION: Final roll of the dice from Fulham manager Jol as he brings off Parker, who to be fair has put in a decent shift in the centre of the pitch. On in his place is the goalscoring threat of Bent.

87 minOFF THE BAR! Agony for Fulham as Bent almost makes an instant impact. Berbatov is the creator as he flicks the ball to the back post. Bent gets up well and loops a header over a flat-footed De Gea. The United keeper has no chance, but sadly for Fulham to ball strikes the top of the crossbar before bouncing out of play.

89 minCHANCE! Fulham really should be within a goal of United and it is Richardson, the former United winger of all people, that fluffs his lines. Kacaniklic does well to get to the left byline, where he sends over cross. Richardson meets it with his head, but he can only send an effort well wide from six yards out. A bad miss.

90 minThere will be three minutes of stoppage time at the end of this clash.


4.57pmWell there you have it. Fulham did well in the second half, but the damage had already been done by United during an opening 45 minutes in which they scored three times.

4.58pmThat's all we have time for from Craven Cottage. Thanks for joining us this afternoon. Until next time, goodbye.

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David Moyes, manager of Manchester United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on October 5, 2013
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