Stunning 3-0 victory for Fulham over Man Utd

Fulham 3 Manchester United 0
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The Independent Football

Fulham swept to a stunning 3-0 victory over Manchester United and last place Portsmouth beat Liverpool 2-0 on a day of shocks in the Premier League on Saturday.

Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff punished United's makeshift defense at Craven Cottage and denied the defending champion any chance of drawing level on points with leader Chelsea, which goes to relegation-threatened West Ham on Sunday.

United's fifth loss of the season could now leave the team six points off the pace if Chelsea wins at Upton Park.

Murphy dispossessed United's Paul Scholes and shot Fulham into a 22nd lead from 30 meters and the second half was only seconds old when Zamora fired home after Clint Dempsey's headed pass.

Duff added the third with a left foot volley in the 75th minute against a United defense which was missing four central defenders through injury.

Nadir Belhadj and Frederic Piquionne fired home angled shots as Portsmouth stunned 10-man Liverpool to put more pressure on manager Rafa Benitez.

Making his first league start for three months, Algerian international Belhadj struck the first in the 33rd minute before Liverpool's Javier Mascherano was sent off for an ugly foul on Tal Ben Haim.

Piquionne added the second in the 82nd to improve Portsmouth's chances of avoiding relegation. It was Liverpool's seventh league loss from 18 games and the defeat pushed the Reds further out of title contention.

"If you analyze the first half I think we were doing well," Benitez said. "We conceded a goal and then the sending off of Mascherano changed everything."

Asked if he thought the red card was justified, the Liverpool manager, who appeared furious about the decision at the time, replied: "The referee was perfect, in everything. He never made mistakes."

Asked if he was worried about losing his job, Benitez replied: "I'm worried about winning the next game."

With speculation mounting about the future of manager Mark Hughes after a 3-0 loss at Tottenham on Wednesday, Manchester City beat Sunderland 4-3 with Roque Santa Cruz scoring twice.

Rumors swept Manchester that Hughes would be fired even with a victory and replaced by former Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini and the Welshman, who has been in charge of the team since June 2008, appeared emotional as he waved to the fans after the game. City announced it would make a statement later Saturday.

Two goals by Peter Crouch steered Tottenham to a 2-0 victory at Blackburn and substitute John Carew gave Aston Villa a 1-0 victory over Stoke, a fifth straight win for Martin O'Neill's team.