Danny Murphy never forgets his scoring boots when he faces Manchester United. The Fulham skipper was on target yet again, as Fulham stunned the Premier League Champions at Craven Cottage on a chilly Saturday evening.
Manchester United came into the game after a 3-0 win over a second string Wolves' side in midweek, appearing to have overcome last week's shocking defeat to Aston Villa at Old Trafford, but Roy Hodgson's men played United off the field.
Sir Alex Ferguson chose a surprising 3-5-2 formation with Darren Fletcher, Micheal Carrick, and Ritchie Da Laet in defense, with Tomas Kuszczak in goal.
Patrice Evra, United's captain for the game, started on the left of a five man midfield which also included Paul Scholes, Darren Gibson, Anderson, and Antonio Valencia.
Wayne Rooney and Micheal Owen completed United's lineup.
United's makeshift defense crumbled against an organized Fulham attack led by Bobby Zamora, who arguably showed us his best performance in a Fulham shirt.
Manchester United's defensive injury woes are quite evident with the likes of Micheal Carrick and Darren Fletcher playing out of place.
Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, Rafael Da Silva, John O'Shea, Wes Brown, and Gary Neville were all unavailable for the game.
Paul Scholes played out all 90 minutes of his worst nightmare.
A fatal error made by the veteran midfielder created Fulham's opener in the first half. Scholes lost possession to Danny Murphy, who took a shot from 25 yards out and managed to beat United's Polish stopper.
Murphy must have thought he got an early Christmas present when both Micheal Carrick and Ritchie Da Laet failed to block him out.
Bobby Zamora, deservedly, scored Fulham's second goal, a half volley from inside the six-yard box.
Zamora helped the Cottagers in completing the rout, as he created Damien Duff's stunning strike with some talented chest control.
Final score, 3-0, Fulham over Manchester United.
Who would have predicted that?
Yes, United certainly missed their regular defenders but even their attack failed to turn up.
One could argue that the likes of Rooney and Owen didn't get the kind of supply you'd expect from United, because the midfield, Scholes in particular, had a game to forget.
Wayne Rooney's cross-shot in the second half was the only time the Red Devils came close to threatening Mark Schwarzer's goal.
Chelsea will be delighted to see United lose because a win against West Ham on Sunday will provide Carlo Ancelotti's men with a six point lead over the Red Devils.
On the other hand, Liverpool continued their horrible run with a 2-0 defeat to rock-bottom Portsmouth at Fratton Park.
The Reds went down with goals by Nadir Belhadj and Fredric Piquionne despite the return of star striker, Fernando Torres.
To add insult to injury, Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano was sent off for a tackle on Tal Ben Haim.
Aston Villa continued a good run of form with a 1-0 win over Stoke at Villa Park with John Carew getting on the score-sheet.
A brace from Peter Crouch sealed a 2-0 away win for the Spurs over Blackburn, while Arsenal overcame relegation-threatened Hull City, 3-0, with goals from Denilson, Eduardo, and Abou Diaby.
Meanwhile, Manchester City and Sunderland pulled out a seven goal thriller.
It was a sensational game which had everything—loads of goals, plenty of rash tackles, a red card, and a manager sacked at the end of it.
Roque Santa Cruz and Carlos Tevez scored early in the first half and appeared to have knocked the stuffing out of the Black Cats, but Steve Bruce's men recovered with goals from John Mensah and Jordan Henderson.
Manchester City's defense was pathetic.
When Kenwyne Jones equalized, it appeared City were heading for yet another stalemate.
Roque Santa Cruz's second goal brought much needed relief to City's supporters and probably stopped Hughes' from pulling his hair out.
Micheal Turner was sent off for elbowing Gareth Barry late, but all was done and dusted.
Bringing an end to speculation, City called a press conference to confirm they have sacked Mark Hughes!
Well, those Arabs, all that money, and poor old Mark Hughes—it was never meant to be, was it? Maybe he should have stayed with Blackburn.
He will be replaced by former Inter Milan manager, Roberto Mancini.
City is currently ahead of Liverpool, in sixth position with 29 points from 17 games in the league table.
Saturday in the Barclays Premier League was a comedy of errors, which started with Javier Mascherano's dramatics and ended with Geovanni's missed penalty, which never was.
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