A Jekyll-and-Hyde performance from Manchester United saw David Moyes register back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the first time since his appointment as Red Devils manager.
Antonio Valencia, Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney each found the back of the net inside the opening 22 minutes, but following the restart, the guests took their foot off the pedal and allowed Fulham back into the contest—Rooney deflecting Alexander Kacaniklic's shot into his own net shortly after the hour mark.
#mufc came flying out of the traps and were 3-0 up inside 22 minutes. Fulham sub Alexander Kacaniklic pulled one back on 65 minutes.— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 2, 2013
The first half, however, was all United as the reigning champions made as good a start to a match as they have all season.
After just nine minutes, they found themselves in front thanks to Valencia, who completed a lovely bit of buildup play that began with Nemanja Vidic's through ball to Van Persie, who in turn held the ball up for Rooney, who slid it across the face of goal for the Ecuador international to slot home.
Ten minutes later, Dimitar Berbatov quite nearly equalized for the Cottagers, only for Rafael to turn the ball behind goal for a corner kick, but less than 60 seconds later, United were 2-0 in front thanks to Van Persie.
Adnan Januzaj—who was bright throughout the contest—stripped Scott Parker of the ball on the left flank and scampered into the attacking third, found Van Persie with an accurate pass and let the 30-year-old finish emphatically inside the near corner.
128 - Robin van Persie is now the Dutch player with the most Premier League goals, surpassing Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (127). Iconic.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) November 2, 2013
Two minutes later, Rooney struck—the England forward finishing in from close after Van Persie's pass from the right.
It was an onslaught of offense United would end up needing, as Fulham were a completely different side after the restart.
Forced to withdraw Rafael, Jonny Evans and Tom Cleverley due to injury ahead of the second half, United immediately appeared to lose the momentum they had picked up through the opening 45 minutes.
To their credit, Fulham endeavored to go on the front foot as soon as the period began. In the 65th minute, they were rewarded when Kacaniklic, who had replaced Ashkan Dejagah only four minutes earlier, cut in from the left and released a hopeful shot that took a wicked deflection off Rooney before beating United goalkeeper David De Gea.
Darren Bent, who came on for Scott Parker with seven minutes remaining, would come closest to finding Fulham's second. In the end, United's first half was enough to see them over the line at Craven Cottage.
Key Player Grades
Wayne Rooney: A
He can be faulted for the Fulham goal, especially as his series of fouls caused play to come into United's half in the buildup to it. But with a goal of his own and an assist on Valencia's opener, he was nevertheless his side's most consistent attacking threat over the 90 minutes, taking three shots and completing 85 percent of his passes, according to WhoScored.com.
Robin Van Persie: A
Van Persie also registered a goal and an assist on Saturday afternoon, although he will have hoped to have touched the ball more than 39 times over the course of the match. Through much of the second half, he was isolated up front as his midfield teammates struggled to regain their foothold.
Pajtim Kasami: A-
The Switzerland international did everything but score a goal on Saturday. Torturing United's right-backs throughout the match, he also tracked back to execute four tackles and also completed an exceptional 87 percent of his passes.
Struggling Fulham will be away to Liverpool next Saturday and will host Swansea following the international break. United, meanwhile, will visit Real Sociedad in the Champions League on Tuesday and will host Arsenal next Sunday.