Manchester United v Fulham – as it happened

Full-time: Nani rasps a shot just wide to end proceedings. A good – but nothing more than that – second-half performance from United against a very poor Fulham, who gave up after going down in the game's opening stages.


90min: Two minutes of added time.

89 min: A corner for Fulham, they never fail to score against United from Fulham when the game is hopelessly lost! Oh, they do here.

87 min: Nani terrifies the Fulham defence as he runs into the area. The thing with Nani is that he'll only terrify for you for a while before he amuses you with his final ball. Which he does here. "I assume that Rooney being taken off was why his marking for Fulham's goal was so ba," says John Barry. "Although his goal should have counted there. Hernandez did nothing wrong..."

85 min: That was a harsh call on Hernandez, I suspect Clattenburg was feeling a little sorry for Fulham.

82 min: Rooney, who I may have said was subbed earlier (it was actually Carrick) places the ball past Schwarzer but Clattenburg says there was a foul from Hernandez.

79 min: Berbatov is tackled by Jones and ambles off, head bowed. He hasn't had the happiest of returns.

GOAL! Man Utd 4-1 Fulham (Hughes 76)

Hughes gets a bit of revenge for giving away a penalty and helping Hernandez score with a near post header from a corner. "When I was last in a London brothel in the 20's," begins Not Albums very promisingly," the tune went a little like.. U-N-I / T-E-D / United are the team for me / with a knick-knack-paddy-whack-give-a-dog-a-bone / why don't City eff off home!" Except eff isn't the actual word.

74 min: Hernandez has yet to score a hat-trick for United. His attempt to break that duck involves a shot that goes well over. Some United fans have left already. As if the game's already over! "Is Day-Lewis all that," asks David Wall. "Sure, he can do a few passable American accents but he couldn't get through a stint as the Dane. Even Mel Gibson could handle that gig." I know, and Mel managed that even with the conspiracy against him by jews, women, men, muslims, hindus, professional table tennis players and the entire population of Hungary (including jewish Hungarian female table tennis players).


71 min: Kagawa and Valencia are on for Giggs and Anderson. For Fulham Ruiz is replaced by Dejagah.


69 min: Oddly, I think Fulham have been slightly better in this half. Or maybe they've just been slightly more entertaining due to letting United score at will. "Note from Grauniad lawyer: snip that Hucknell reference now!" yelps Ian Copestake. No, I checked Hucknall's definitely a United fan.

GOAL! Man Utd 4-0 Fulham (Hernandez 65)

Giggs has a lot of time to find Hernandez in the box, his shot deflects off Hughes and past Schwarzer.

63 min: Berbatov gets the most space he's had all day but unfortunately chooses to pass to Sidwell, who should never be given space in any circumstances. Fulham lose the ball. "What’s that song called that the united fans sing that makes them sound like bawdy prostitutes from the know the one," says John Delaney. Um ... "We Are Bawdy 1920s Prostitutes"? By the way, before I get angry emails from United fans I'm not suggesting all United fans are bawdy 1920s prostitutes. Just Rob Smyth. And Mick Hucknall.

61 min: Scholes is on for the excellent Carrick. The distinctly unexcellent Duff is off and Rodallega is on.

59 min: Duff spoons a shot wide. "Possibly the worst film blog I've ever read, I live in Oxfordshire, and because of the time difference, I'm often at work and rely on checking updates like these," says David Taylor. "Why the hell would I care to read about Berbatov's lack of running habits or that Manchester United are beating Fulham? What a waste." 

56 min: A slightly shocked Fulham are tippying tappying it about in an attempt to get their breath back. "I wonder whatever possesed Bri Aab to think that the MBM offered 'football coverage'," wonders Lou Roper. "Its function, of course, is to provide a forum for discussing the great issues of the day (minute-by-minute), such as Mr Day-Lewis' running habits, for which the footy provides the white noise (which is, of course, its purpose in life). Mustn't take sport so seriously." I'd never actually seen a game of football before this match, I just turned up because I heard I could talk about Daniel Day-Lewis. They should form a league where all the best teams play each other, I'd watch that.


GOAL! Man Utd 3-0 Fulham (Hernandez 52)

Rooney gets the assist. He slots the ball across the six-yard box and Hernandez twists and slams the ball home from a few yards out, before completing a jaunty jog in celebration.

51 min: This half has had more interest in five minutes than in the preceding 45. Anderson almost finds Rooney in space again but Hughes - excellent apart from the small matter of giving away a penalty - intercepts. "Does the splendid photo above feature a moment which would result in a sending off in the current game," wonders Ian Copestake. "He's gone studs showing through Bestie's foot to get the ball and Fergie would be going purple (well, more purple) if that happened." I know! He actually tackling Best with his eyes closed. I imagine it was hard enough to tackle him with your eyes open.

GOAL! Man Utd 2-0 Fulham (Rooney 49)

A lovely ball to find Rooney who twists and turns past two defenders before slamming the ball home from 20 yards.

47 min: Rooney could have had a hat-trick today. Hughes clears off the line though after a close-range shot. Both sides are playing with more urgency in this half.

46 min: Berbatov strikes a beautiful shot but it's cleared by a Fulham head quicker than you can say "Revenge! Oh hang on, it's been cleared." Mark Clattenburg says that Duff's handball was accidental. So there you go. "Surely it's best supporting Actor Oscar Daniel-Day Lewis should have won for Gangs of New York," says Ryan Dunne. "Leonardo Di Caprio was the lead (and if you can't be ridiculously pedantic on an MBM then when can you be etc). I'd like to thank the Academy for giving Oscars to Christian "Batman" Bale and Natalie "Darth Vader's missus'' Portman in 2011, although Dark Knight Rises obviously should have been on the short list for this year's Best Film." As I say, I'll pass your comments on to the Academy.

Fan mail dept: "Possibly the worst football coverage I've ever read," says Bri Aab, who has to be first in the phonebook. "I live in the states, and because of the time difference, I'm often at work and rely on checking updates like these. Why the hell would I care to read about Daniel Day Lewis' running habits or that your colleague is 38 and lives with his parents? What a waste." Only possibly the worst?

"OK, I lied," says notorious liar JR. I trusted you JR! "I lied. I'm still here. There is some slight hope that the match could stay close throughout as it seemed like Fulham was starting to succeed in bringing United down to their level in the last ten or so minutes of the half. Berbatov has mostly been fuming so far today. I feel sorry for him."

Half-time tactics from you, the reader. In this case Madrin Macgillivray. "United are playing a very high defensive line with lots of gaps and every time Fulham break in the middle of the park there is always lots of open space in behind and they should be able to put balls through, but with Ruiz and Berbatov for all their technique, the pace isn't there. Fulham could be causing De Gea much more trouble, switching Duff to the middle at halftime might be the answer." Martin Jol may be out of job soon, you should ask around Madrin.

More breaking Daniel Day-Lewis news! Ian McCourt's dad's friend goes running with Daniel Day Lewis. Apparently he's very good, but only because he gets into character as Jamie Baulch before every jog.

Half-time: Fulham end the half with a corner. Let's see what they can do. Duff swings the ball in, Sidwell falls over and Clattenburg blows his whistle! Oh. It's for half-time.

45 min: One minute of added time. Breaking news! Daniel Day Lewis lives down the road from my colleague Ian McCourt's parents. Which means he also lives down the road from Ian who, at the age of 38, still lives with his mum and dad.

44 min: Nani wins a corner by - get this smacking the ball into Riise's shins - he then puts in a lovely ball that scythes across the six-yard box but no United player can get to it.

43 min: Nani has now managed to hit the ball into the shins of every Fulham player on the pitch. A victory of sorts.

40 min: Berbatov briefly threatens to beat nine men before walloping the ball into the top corner but stumbles at the first man.

37 min: Sidwell hasn't had the best of games and gives away possession. Fulham win it back though and eventually Ruiz has a shot which is deflected into De Gea's grasp. "My dad, a Fulham fan, thinks the players want shot of Jol," says John "That's his reason for the lacklustre display." Your dad isn't Damien Duff, is he?

34 min: Berbatov displays some ridiculous skill to release Riether, who blazes a shot this far past De Gea's right-hand post. This by the way is closer than this. But not as close at THIS.

31 min: Carrick is caught in possession and Ruiz streams forward but can't find his team-mate (code for I wasn't looking at who it was). At the other end Rooney has a shot saved by Schwarzer. "United have history with a great shot stopper who was occasionally like a rabbit in headlights when trying to cope with a high ball, his name was Peter Schmeichel, some of you may have heard of him," says David Flynn. "People need to relax, the ball goes past 10 other players before it goes past De Gea".

28 min: Rooney trundles a shot at Schwarzer. This is all very amiable at the moment, Fulham seem happy for United to keep on attacking as long as they don't do anything rude like score. "Daniel Day-Lewis should have won the Best Actor Oscar for Gangs of New York," says Brad McMillan. "If an FA Cup 4th round MBM isn't the place to make this point, then what is?" Fair point: I know several members of the Academy are keen readers of this very site so we'll see if we can get some kind of retrospective change.

25 min: Nani shoots under pressure from Hangeland but it's straight at the keeper. He's enjoying himself so much he repeats the trick 30 seconds later, this time avoiding the keeper but also avoiding the goal. "How do we know Daniel Day-Lewis isn't actually doing an amazing method acting job of his own life, and his real name is actually, I don't know, Robert de Niro," says Paul Gage.

21 min: Ah, that's more like it. Giggs chips the ball into the box and the ball falls on to Duff's hand. Should have been another penalty. a minute later, Rooney's shot is deflected on to the bar by Schwarzer.

18 min: Nice defending from Smalling chesting a Fulham cross down before clearing the ball. Sorry, I know that's not really a highlight but tell someone to have a shot if you want something a little zingier.

15 min: Fulham aren't being swamped in this game, perhaps because United are sitting back on their early lead. Duff makes some inroads but his cross apologises its way out for a goal kick.

12 min: De Gea's first task of the day is to rush out and gather a through ball. He does so cleanly and showed no signs of hesitation - a nice start. "Is it my imagination or is Rooney looking particularly Championship-ish material in the first three mins," asks Shahmir Khaliq. I'm happy to give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

10 min: Rooney mishits a cross into the stands. "Re: Daniel Day-Lewis's method acting as Joseph," says Dan Carter. "Just as well he didn't get a role as Mary, things could get tricky what with the whole immaculate conception."

7 min: Nani wins a corner on the right. It's taken short but Fulham clear and Berbatov is almost released by Ruiz. Fulham have now had it in the United half for a good 10 seconds. "That was a fun game," says JR in Illinois. "See you later..." JR's obviously no fan of stunning 10-goal comebacks.

4 min: Hughes was going for a header when he handled the ball, a definite penalty. United are on the attack again. This could be a difficult evening for Fulham.

GOAL! Man Utd 1-0 Fulham (Giggs 2 pen)

Schwarzer gets a hand to Giggs's penalty but it's got enough power to creep in.


2 min: Rooney almost scores the first goal after 42 seconds. Sidwell's loose backpass is intercepted and from the resulting corner we have a penalty for handball from Hughes.

1 min: Mark Clattenburg gets things started and we're off. "Hmm, I think Paul should look on the bright side. He obviously must have been well thought of to get the crucial role of Joseph," says Ryan Dunne. Yeah, but he's no Baby Jesus. "In contrast I never even got to play half a donkey or the like. Plus, surely nervousness and vomiting would be conducive to a gritty, cinema verite, groundbreaking essaying of the role? If a (very) young Daniel Day-Lewis played Joseph at school that's probably what he'd do." 

Berbatov watch He looks like he doesn't give a flying eff as he strolls out. When did he ever though?

Joe McGrath disagrees that this is a weakened United team. "I think the team selection speaks for itself there. While it's definitely not our best line up, it's not like Fergie's putting out a reserve side here. I was far more irritated with Rafael and Valencia for the goal last week, De Gea was simply unlucky, and had put in a quality performance until then. He's now far ahead of Lindegaard in terms of quality, so there's no reason for Fergie to promote the Dane ahead of De Gea."

"I have a good deal of sympathy for David de Gea," starts Paul Gage. Because he's young and talented and incredibly rich? "I know what it's like to perform when your team-mates don't think much of you. I was so nervous at my nativity play in primary school - my Joseph wasn't convincing – that I vomited before opening night." Opening night? There were repeat performances?

And shock of the day goes to Luton, who became the first non-league side to beat a top-flight club in the FA Cup since 1989. They beat Norwich by the way.

So Ferguson keeps faith with David de Gea. Too right: yes, he made a mistake against Spurs but he has steadily improved during his time at Old Trafford and as long as he's improving there's no need to drop him. Having said that, maybe Ferguson's playing a weakened side for the FA Cup and the fact that De Gea's playing today proves he's now second choice.

Your teams

Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Evra; Nani, Anderson, Carrick, Giggs; Rooney, Hernandez. Subs: Ferdinand, Valencia, Lindegaard, Welbeck, van Persie, Scholes, Kagawa.

Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Baird, Kacaniklic; Ruiz; Berbatov. Subs: Senderos, Petric, Karagounis, Briggs, Rodallega, Dejagah, Etheridge.


Manchester United fans! It's all very well having Robin van Persie with his yawn inducing 30 goals a season, wouldn't you rather have your strikers a little more mercurial? A little more barely-into-double-figures-but-with-a-few-nonchalant-backheels-thrown-in? Well, today you'll see what you've been missing since Dimitar Berbatov left Old Trafford because he's returning with his new team, Fulham.

Incidentally, our affectionate gallery in tribute to Berbatov was ... misinterpreted by some Bulgarians leading to by far the best email I've ever received in my time at the Guardian. It started thus: "I am so frustrated about this gallery! All of you are suckers, you are British transvestites, you are not people ..." Which I felt was a tad harsh on transvestites. 


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