Match Report: Rampant Wayne Rooney ensures soft landing for Manchester United after flying start
Manchester United 4 Fulham 1
Despite the fact he scored at Old Trafford with a muscular header, this is not a night Aaron Hughes would want to relive.
He gave away the opening penalty, failed to close down Wayne Rooney for Manchester United’s second and deflected Javier Hernandez’s shot past his own keeper. All in all, not one for the grandchildren.
He need not dwell upon it – the third-minute penalty always seemed as if it would set United on their merry way through a tie that proved as one-sided at it seemed likely to be when it was selected for live broadcast.
United seemed determined to make a big thing of the FA Cup. As the teams lined up in the tunnel, the loudspeakers continually broadcast the fact that they had lifted the trophy more than any other club.
If they were measuring their history in years, this was a tie decided in the opening seconds. It took 39 for Wayne Rooney to force a corner and 72 for Hughes to handle as the Ulsterman rose to meet that kick in front of Chris Smalling.
Rooney’s miss in the third-round replay here against West Ham had made him the fourth Manchester United player to fail to convert a penalty this season. With Sir Alex Ferguson writing in the programme that: “We will really have to up our game in this area,” the pressure fell on Ryan Giggs, who struck his kick to Mark Schwarzer’s right and, although his goalkeeper’s glove touched the ball, it was not enough to stop it from hitting the back of the net.
Had Mark Clattenburg awarded another handball for what seemed a blatant offence by Damien Duff, the match might have been decided long before the interval.
John Arne Riise had his work cut out dealing with Nani and, increasingly as the tie wore on, a rampant Rooney. First, he failed to cut out a long diagonal ball that was meant for Nani, who had a clear sight of goal and might have wished he had shot harder.
Moments later, the boy from the Cape Verde Islands delivered a cross to Rooney, which he controlled and then shot, almost in the same movement, the ball striking Schwarzer’s body and rebounding against the underside of the crossbar before being scrambled away to temporary safety.
Within four minutes of the restart, the ball was in the Fulham net. Rooney had just seen a shot cleared off the line by Hughes when he cut inside the defender and shot between the two centre-halves and past Schwarzer.
Then, as the Fulham defence attempted to clear a ball with the same degree of certainty as a kitten toying with a hand-grenade, Rooney crossed, the ball struck the back of a defender’s boot and Hernandez did the rest.
The Stretford End began singing the old song about Wembley. They may not reach that far but their place in the fifth round was now utterly secure.
Manchester United (4-4-2): De Gea; Da Silva, Jones, Smalling, Evra; Nani, Anderson (Kagawa, 71), Carrick (Scholes, 61), Giggs (Valencia, 71); Rooney, Hernandez.
Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff (Rodallega, 61), Sidwell, Baird (Karagounis, h-t), Kacaniklic; Ruiz (Dejegah, 70); Berbatov.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the match: Rooney (Manchester United)
Match rating: 5/10
Latest in Sport
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
McDowell did brilliantly to land the World Match Play title in Bulgaria last week, but it’s a format...
by Gareth Purnell
23 May 2013 09:13 AM
David Moyes delighted after Rio Ferdinand agrees to stay at Manchester United with new one-year contract
Sergio Garcia / Tiger Woods 'fried chicken' racism row takes fresh twist after 'coloured athletes' comment
After racist remark, Sergio Garcia fights for reputation as Tiger Woods slams 'hurtful' fried chicken joke
New Manchester City manager must deliver five trophies in five years
Manchester United slash interest bill by £10m a year
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 2 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 3 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.