Fulham vs. Manchester United: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Wayne Rooney's late goal pushed Manchester United to a 1-0 victory over Fulham and ensured the Red Devils' lead atop the English Premier League table would not diminish.
The first half featured an open game, with each team finding a few quality opportunities. Both sides were able to beat the opposing keeper only to be denied by the post, and the opening stanza came to close with the score still at 0-0.
There was a slight delay in the closing moments of the first 45 minutes when a power outage plunged Craven Cottage into darkness. But after the technical difficulties were sorted out, play resumed uninterrupted.
With a scoreless draw seeming increasingly imminent, Rooney finally broke the deadlock in the 79th minute. After carrying the ball down the left side of the pitch and into the box, he delivered a curling shot that bent neatly into the far corner of the net.
A spirited finish from Fulham was not enough to produce a goal, and United's fine form ultimately continued to produce the desired result.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United: A
Rooney has continued to adapt to his new role for United, and he popped up all over the pitch in this match. He lined up as an attacking central midfielder to start the match, but often dropped deeper to collect the ball.
He came painfully close to putting the Red Devils ahead in the first half when he struck the post, and he produced moments of danger throughout the game. His constant prodding finally paid off in the 79th minute with a fantastic finish for the game's only goal.
Mark Schwarzer, Fulham: B+
The Australian goalkeeper was tested in this match, and he passed with flying colors. Schwarzer had no chance on the game's lone goal, and he cannot be blamed for the loss.
The first half produced a frightening moment for Fulham when the ball bounced around the six-yard box following a United corner. The crossbar kept one of the Red Devils' attempts out, while Schwarzer delivered a fine save on another shot to ensure his team did not fall behind early. The Cottagers could have easily lost by a wider margin if not for Schwarzer's efforts.
Robin van Persie, Manchester United: C
United supporters have come to expect much more from van Persie due to his remarkable form this season.
Even in matches in which the Dutchman doesn't get a goal, he has still made a dramatic impact with his skill and movement. That was not the case today, and this fixture proved to be a hiccup in an otherwise spectacular campaign for van Persie.
Hugo Rodallega, Fulham: C+
Rodallega was given the difficult task of filling in for the injured Dimitar Berbatov. As Fulham's lone striker, the Colombian gave an admirable effort, but was not a constant burden on the United defense.
Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans kept Rodallega contained for the majority of the match, and this was not the 27-year-old's finest match.
Jonny Evans, Manchester United: A
1-0 wins have been rare during United's current campaign, as the defense has had severe struggles this season. But Evans' partnership with Rio Ferdinand produced a fine match at the back for the Red Devils.
Both players were impressive, but Evans ultimately stood out with his excellent tackling and aerial ability.
Fulham will take the field on February 9 as it continues its Premier League campaign against Norwich City.
United will play on February 10 in a showdown with Everton at Old Trafford.
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