Title race wide open after Fulham stun United

Fulham 2 Manchester United 0

Fulham smashed the Barclays Premier League title race wide open with a sensational victory against nine-man Manchester United at Craven Cottage.

Danny Murphy put Fulham ahead in the 17th minute when he converted from the penalty spot after Paul Scholes was sent off for handling a header from Bobby Zamora.

Substitute Zoltan Gera then completed a fabulous afternoon for the Cottagers when he hooked home a cross by Andrew Johnson three minutes from time.

United were then reduced to nine men when substitute Wayne Rooney was dismissed for a second bookable offence seconds later.

It was United's second successive defeat following their 4-1 home mauling by Liverpool last weekend and the first time the champions and league leaders had suffered back-to-back losses in the league since April 2005.

But Fulham thoroughly deserved their victory after a first half which saw them rip United's defence open time and again.

Fulham served notice of their intentions when Clint Dempsey fired just wide with an angled drive in the second minute.

Moments later though United almost stole the lead when Dimitar Berbatov headed just over from a cross by Patrice Evra.

United were struggling to impose themselves on Fulham who had taken the game to the Red Devils in a confident fashion.

Zamora was allowed to run on freely after collecting the ball midway in the United half. Unfortunately for the Fulham striker he could not take advantage of his freedom and sent a 20-yard drive beyond Edwin van der Sar's right-hand post.

It was all Fulham with United looking decidedly shaky. Their pressure paid off in dramatic fashion in the 17th minute when Scholes was sent off for handball.

The corner from Simon Davies was headed goalwards by Brede Hangeland and after Zamora's first flick-on was saved by Van der Sar, his second attempt was kept out by the hands of Scholes.

Captain Murphy stepped up to send Van der Sar the wrong way from the spot to give Fulham the lead.

United were clearly having a confidence crisis and the goal was just reward for Fulham's bullish opening.

The Cottagers were humbled 4-0 in the FA Cup at Craven Cottage by United earlier in the month but Sir Alex Ferguson's side now faced a struggle to get back into the game after being reduced to 10 men.

Fulham continued to dominate and only a brilliant save from Van der Sar prevented Zamora from making it two in the 21st minute.

Fulham wasted two more chances to go further ahead with Van der Sar saving brilliantly from Zamora again in the 27th minute and then two minutes later Dempsey sent a right-foot drive flashing wide from 20 yards.

In the 32nd minute a cross from Dempsey was met by the head of Dickson Etuhu but the Fulham midfielder's header was collected safely by Van der Sar.

Moments later the Dutchman had to be alert once more as he dived to his right to catch a ferocious long-range drive from Zamora.

It was an uncharacteristic performance from United with Ryan Giggs guilty of some dreadful passing.

But Fulham had stung the league leaders with an all-action display to outplay their opponents from the start.

United full-back Evra was booked in first-half stoppage time for diving as Fulham were given a standing ovation on the whistle.

Ferguson decided Rooney would provide more firepower in attack as he replaced the ineffective Berbatov for the second half.

In the 52nd minute a cross from Darren Fletcher saw Cristiano Ronaldo climb high to send a header just over the Fulham crossbar.

Ronaldo was becoming more and more frustrated at Phil Dowd's reluctance to award a free-kick every time the Portugal international was tackled.

The United winger was so incensed that he produced a two-footed lunge at Murphy which was surprisingly only punished by a yellow card.

Ronaldo was saved by the fact his reckless challenge did not connect with Murphy, but his antics found little favour with the home crowd who booed him at every opportunity.

But United were beginning to get back into the game and Fletcher brought a save from Mark Schwarzer in the 59th minute when he let loose with a low drive from 20 yards.

Fulham had Schwarzer to thank again in the 61st minute when he saved superbly to keep out a powerful header from Ronaldo.

In the 64th minute, the Australian produced an incredible double save at point-blank range to deny Park Ji-Sung and Rooney and then dived full length to keep out a Ronaldo drive.

Fulham were now reeling for the first time in the game and Murphy was forced off through injury to be replaced by Olivier Dacourt in the 67th minute.

United responded a minute later by removing John O'Shea and replacing him with Carlos Tevez.

But Fulham made the game safe three minutes from time when substitute Gera struck their second from Johnson's assist and Rooney saw red for a second bookable offence as the frustration of defeat proved too much to bear.

The only comfort for United manager Alex Ferguson was that Chelsea counterpart Guus Hiddink lost for the first time in his eight-match reign at White Hart Lane.

Luka Modric's 50th-minute strike ended Tottenham's 19-year wait for a victory over its London rival.

The crossbar denied Alex an equalizer deep into stoppage time.

Stoke moved out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough, which stays second from bottom. Ryan Shawcross met a long throw-in from Rory Delap with a header to beat Brad Jones with six minutes remaining.

Portsmouth's prospects of avoiding relegation were also boosted by Peter Crouch scoring twice to secure a 2-1 victory over Everton.

The three points had looked in doubt when Leighton Baines put Everton ahead in the fourth minute with a free kick that curled in off the far post.

"It was massive we got a win today," Crouch said. "We started badly. Thankfully we showed a lot of character to come back."

Pompey, who had won just one of their last 13 league matches, leveled in the 22nd when a corner was only half cleared before reaching Glen Johnson, who headed across goal for Crouch to find the net.

The England forward pounced again with 15 minutes remaining at Fratton Park, heading past United States goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Blackburn salvaged a 1-1 draw against West Ham. Substitute Keith Andrews scored from a tight angle in the 51st to cancel out Mark Noble's first-half opener for the Hammers.





Life and Style
LifeReddit asked a simple question with infinite answers this week
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Life and Style
beauty
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice