Monday football - Manchester United v Fulham

Manchester United hold on to beat Fulham in the Premier League and move back above rivals City at top of the table.

26 March 2012 Last updated at 22:39

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As it happened

  1. 2237: 

    Though it was a much better performance from Fulham than on some of their previous visits to Old Trafford, the fact remains that they have now lost nine away games in a row against Manchester United. The champions, as they so often do, win without being at their best - an ominous sign for title rivals Manchester City. Tomorrow, focus switches away from the Premier League, with action in the Champions League, FA Cup and Football League. Join Phil Dawkes, who will talk you through a busy evening. Thanks for all your contributions tonight. Goodnight.

  2. 2228: 

    So Sir Alex Ferguson concedes his side were fortunate during what was an unexpectedly dramatic finish to a game which looked to be drawing to a rather lethargic close. Why not have a recap of the night's events with our

  3. 2227: 

    Sir Alex Ferguson speaking to Sky Sports: "For an hour we played very well and we made some decent opportunities but you have to give credit to Fulham. They had more left than we did in the last 15 minutes. I think they had a claim [for a penalty], there's no doubt. We had a claim in the first half. Maybe the referee was thinking about that, but certainly Michael Carrick caught Danny Murphy's heel."

    Man Utd 1-0 Fulham

    BBC Sport's Nabil Hassan reports: "This was a nervy display from Manchester United, who in the end were lucky not to concede a penalty. Small decisions can have a big impact and the blue half of Manchester will be cursing referee Michael Oliver tonight."

  5. 2217: 

    Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, speaking on Sky Sports: "I had a quick look to the referee and, having seen it again, he could have given a penalty [against Michael Carrick]."


    Alex Emberton on Twitter: "Feel sorry for Fulham... Still, the mark of champions is winning when you're playing poorly... Hope this is a sign!"

  7. 2213: 

    Italian football expert Gabriele Marcotti on BBC Radio 5 live talking about Claudio Ranieri's dismissal as Inter Milan manager: "It is a surprise, everyone thought he would go at the end of the season, what is the point of making the decision with 10-11 games to go? He was seen as someone who could squeeze something out of the veteran players at the club but when it appeared that the season was over they thought 'why not get rid of him now?' Laurent Blanc and Andre Villas-Boas will be the favourites to take over."

  8. 2211: 

    Disputed decisions aside, that's now 28 points from a possible 30 for the reigning Premier League champions. They really are relentless when they have the title in their sights.

  9. 2209: 

    It seems the majority of you agree with Martin Jol that it should have been a penalty, but overall Manchester United probably did enough to merit that victory. They dominated for long periods of the second half and had enough chances to put the game beyond Fulham's reach.

  10. 2207: 

    Fulham boss Martin Jol: "I feel it was a difficult decision, it always is for a penalty. I think you should send Michael Carrick off and I think everyone in the stadium was expecting it. I've seen it many times before, you have to be brave to give a penalty like that here."

  11. 2205:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "United got sloppy at the end because it was too easy for them. In the last 10 minutes Fulham came back into the game and they got sloppy. But what Manchester United do best is win football games."


    James Blackwell on Twitter: "No penalty. minimal contact, not enough to bring down a man. hate this culture of trying to win penalties."


    Yaz, an angry Fulham fan: "I'm struggling to see how a ref can not give that."


    Utdboys on Twitter: "That was a stonewall pen, other way round i'd be fuming!!!"


    Gene Yew on Twitter: "Surely if that wasn't a penalty, it should count as a dive?! Why would he just fall over?!"

  16. 2156: 

    So Robbie Savage says that was a definite penalty, but what do you all think?

  17. 2155:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "In my opinion Carrick has taken away Murphy's legs inside the box and it is as clear as anything. How can the referee miss that?"

    FULL-TIMEMan Utd 1-0 Fulham

    The Cottagers barely have time to take the set-piece before the final whistle is blown and Manchester United are back on top of the Premier League table. Big sighs of relief all-round at Old Trafford.

  19. 93 mins: 

    Fulham are throwing bodies forward and have a final throw...

  20. 91 mins: 

    We're into injury time here now.

  21. 90 mins: 

    That could be a significant moment in this year's title race. Manchester United can count themselves very lucky there. It was a silly challenge from Michael Carrick and one he is fortunate to get away with. Martin Jol will not be a happy man.

  22. 89 mins:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "That for me is a stonewall penalty. The referee Michael Oliver has got it all wrong. United have got away with that one."

  23. 89 mins: 

    Referee Michael Oliver has made a big call there. The ball is slid into Danny Murphy in the box and he is challenged by Michael Carrick, who appears to make contact with the midfielder and not the ball, but the appeals are waved away.

  24. 89 mins: 

    Huge penalty appeal for Fulham...

  25. 86 mins: 

    It's end-to-end stuff now. Manchester United break at pace through Rafael after Fulham threaten from a Danny Murphy free-kick in a dangerous position, but both attacks come to nothing. The Cottagers are showing much more purpose, but that could easily let United in for a second.

  26. 83 mins: 

    Given Manchester United's second-half possession, Fulham will be grateful still to be in with a chance as we move into the final stages of this game. And you never know what could happen. As it stands, United are moving three points clear at the top of the Premier League table, but there is still hope for Fulham (and Manchester City).

  27. 81 mins: 

    Antonio Valencia is again afforded too much space on the right and centres for Javier Hernandez, but the striker can only stab a tame shot at goal with defenders surrounding him.

  28. 79 mins:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "It is a strange decision for me, Rooney looked deflated as he walked off. What you've got now is lack of pace in the United midfield so it's a strange decision."

  29. 78 mins: 

    Goalscorer Wayne Rooney gets a standing ovation as he comes off to be replaced by Paul Scholes.

  30. 75 mins: 

    How did Manchester United not double their advantage? Ashley Young fires in a volley which Mark Schwarzer parries, then the keeper does superbly to react and block Young's second attempt. The ball drops to Ryan Giggs, with Schwarzer out of his goal, but Giggs shoots straight at Brede Hangeland, who hacks clear.

  31. 74 mins: 

    Rio Ferdinand, who has been excellent tonight, hobbles off to be replaced by Chris Smalling. That will be a concern for Sir Alex Ferguson, as the centre-back has been in fine form of late.

  32. 73 mins:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Diarra is walking off faster than anything he has done all game and he's hardly moving now, he has been very, very, very poor, I was surprised he started ahead of Murphy because Murphy can pick a pass far better than Diarra."

  33. 72 mins: 

    Danny Murphy, who has twice scored winners at Old Trafford and twice found the net for Fulham against Manchester United, comes on for Mahamadou Diarra.

  34. 70 mins:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Fulham just look disinterested. There's no noise from their fans, it's just so flat. It's as if the Fulham players are thinking let's get on the bus, let's get out of here and on with the next game. Very poor Fulham display so far."

  35. 68 mins: 

    Manchester United have forced Fulham so far back that they're bound to create chances. The Cottagers are defending resolutely, though they cannot stop Antonio Valencia finding Ryan Giggs in space. A gap opens up for the Welshman on the edge of the box but he skews his shot well wide.

  36. 66 mins: 

    Bryan Ruiz on for Kerim Frei. That's more or less a straight swap from Martin Jol and, looking at the Cottagers' bench, it is about the only attack-minded switch he could have made.

  37. 66 mins: 

    I wonder if the Mexican can liven up proceedings? It's all gone a bit flat at Old Trafford, with the home side content to be leading and Fulham showing little attacking ambition since the break.


    Inter Milan have sacked their manager - former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri - after a run of only one win in their last 10 league matches.

  39. 63 mins: 

    Javier Hernandez replaces Danny Welbeck in attack for Manchester United.

  40. 59 mins: 

    Manchester United are looking really comfortable since the break and Fulham have started to sit back. I wonder if they really believe they can get a point out of this?

  41. 57 mins: 

    Fulham are beginning to get a little stretched now as Manchester United spray the ball around at will. After a long spell of passing, the home side find Danny Welbeck in space in the area, but the England striker is unable to cap what would have been a brilliant team goal as his shot is blocked.

    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Rio Ferdinand has come back extremely well today and I would definitely take him to the European Championship if I was the England manager. He's the best player on the ball in the England defence and that's crucial at major tournaments."

  43. 54 mins: 

    After a few shaky performances in recent weeks, Mark Schwarzer is redeeming himself tonight. Ashley Young works some space on the left, cuts in and curls an effort from distance, but the Australian tips it away at full stretch. Manchester United are starting to impose themselves - dangerous times for Fulham.

  44. 52 mins: 

    Antonio Valencia looks like the biggest threat to Fulham. The winger is constantly trying to attack John Arne Riise - and he certainly has the beating of the Norwegian for pace - but Valencia hasn't quite found an end product yet.


    Yossi Brysh on Twitter: "This doesn't look like the United who won 5-0 at Craven Cottage earlier in the season. Reds are lucky to be ahead."

  46. 47 mins: 

    Mark Schwarzer is forced into action after some lovely play by the home side. Ryan Giggs plays the ball over the top for Antonio Valencia, who runs free and seems likely to score, but his shot is straight at the Australian. That's a let-off for Fulham.

  47. 46 mins: 

    Bright start by Fulham. Stephen Kelly breaks down the right and fires in an inviting cross but David de Gea does well to grasp it at full stretch. No sign that the visitors are happy to sit back.

  48. 2105: 

    Fulham get the second half under way. No changes at the break.


    Giles from Birmingham: "One thing Man U have definitely learnt from their European adventure is the art of pressing. Trying to break down and make it difficult for Fulham: and generally succeeding."


    Don't forget you can text the commentary on 81111 or tweet us using the hashtag #bbcfootball

  51. 2100: 

    So unless Fulham can beat the odds and come from a goal down to win, Martin Jol's poor record against Sir Alex Ferguson looks set to continue. The Dutchman has never beaten Manchester United as a manager. He won't be disheartened by his team's display so far, though. They have certainly suggested they could score and this game is far from over.

  52. 2057: 
    Man Utd 1-0 Fulham

    BBC Sport's Nabil Hassan reports: "Wayne Rooney's tap-in just before the break gives Manchester United an undeserved half-time lead over Fulham. United have been subdued with their passing erratic, while Fulham have been full of energy and were unlucky not to have scored on a couple of occasions."


    Neil McGuigan on Twitter: "Scoreline perhaps flatters Man United as De Gea has been the busier goalkeeper."

  54. 2052:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Martin Jol has got his tactics right because in midfield he thinks that Giggs and Carrick can get overrun by Dembele, Dempsey, Duff and Frei. Fulham have soaked up the pressure well but they will be deflated going into half-time having defended reasonably well."

    HALF-TIMEMan Utd 1-0 Fulham
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "The goal was always going to come from a mistake or a piece of magic and it's come from a mistake. I felt Brede Hangeland should have won his header from the cross. But United deserve their goal from the possession they have had."

  57. 44 mins: 

    They probably don't deserve to be ahead on the balance of chances, but that goal - Wayne Rooney's 21st in the league this season - will be a massive relief to the home side. It is also particularly bad news for Fulham, as the Red Devils haven't lost any league game when they've taken the lead during this campaign.

  58. 42 mins: 
    GOALMan Utd 1-0 Fulham (Rooney)

    Fulham fail to clear a cross from Ashley Young, John Arne Riise horribly miscuing as the ball comes in from the left. Jonny Evans, lurking at the back post, pokes it back across and Wayne Rooney smashes in from six yards.


    Ian Purdy: "I thought City were feeling the pressure against Stoke. I now know the feeling."

  60. 38 mins: 

    Although it's been a frustrating half for them so far, Manchester United are perfectly happen to probe patiently, but so far they've not having too much success in getting the ball to Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck.

    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "That was very unlike Giggs that tackle, he's not known for his tackling, maybe the wind got behind his ears and pushed him along?"

  62. 34 mins: 

    Ryan Giggs goes in the book for a lunge on Moussa Dembele. The Welshman was nowhere near getting the ball.


    Saqueeb Rajan: "All the Fulham doubters have gone quiet! This will be a nailbiter!"

  64. 31 mins: 

    Oh dear. Patrice Evra, what were you thinking? The Manchester United left-back tries an overhead kick from 12 yards out, but it goes very wrong and misses the target by a long way.

  65. 30 mins: 

    There's every chance this will spell bad news for them, but Manchester City fans must be pretty happy with how this match is going so far. Fulham look solid enough, far more so than when they were easily beaten at Etihad Stadium a few weeks ago.

  66. 28 mins: 

    That's better from Manchester United. Antonio Valencia runs at the Fulham defence and has a couple of half-chances to shoot inside the box, but his effort is blocked by John Arne Riise.

  67. 27 mins: 

    But Fulham clear easily enough. The problem for the visitors is that, when they do try to clear their lines, they have so many men back that they are simply giving it back to the home side.

  68. 26 mins: 

    Free-kick for Manchester United in a dangerous position on the left wing...


    Krish: "Diarra picking up some clever spaces and passing the ball off first time. So useful when you have fast attackers to break with. Great player in his day, might have some quality left to put on display tonight."

  70. 24 mins: 

    Good work by Kerim Frei on the left, who feeds Clint Dempsey. The American looks in the mood tonight and he sends in a curling effort from 25 yards, but David de Gea flings himself to his left to keep it out. Fulham, after a slow start, are creating the better chances right now.

  71. 22 mins:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Fulham's best chance is to get Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele on the ball and creating things for them. Fulham doing exceptionally well at the moment. They look more threatening than United going forward at the moment."


    Richard Daniels on Twitter: "Fulham getting more of the ball now. Old Trafford is quiet. Don't tell me United's European form has made an appearance."

  73. 19 mins: 

    Another chance for Fulham. Clint Dempsey breaks from midfield and attacks the exposed Jonny Evans. The Manchester United defender prevents the American advancing into the box, so he elects to shoot from 20 yards, but David de Gea is able to make a routine save.


    El Patinho on Twitter: "Fulham's formation is so attacking it is bordering on the suicidal... Poor ball retention will be their downfall tonight however."

  75. 17 mins: 

    Fulham are starting to get a foothold in this game now after a shaky start. Moussa Dembele goes past Michael Carrick with ease and drives towards the penalty area, but the Belgian's shot goes tamely wide.


    Rick Nash on Twitter: "Fulham playing the typical, 'park-the-bus and counter' strategy that usually ends in defenders tiring and United winning 3-0."

  77. 14 mins: 

    But it comes to nothing. Set-pieces could be a useful avenue for the visitors this evening, though, particularly with the giant Brede Hangeland in their side.

  78. 13 mins: 

    Having said that, Fulham force the first corner of the game...

  79. 13 mins: 

    Martin Jol's biggest impact at Fulham since arriving in the summer has been to try to inject some extra attacking flair into the side, meaning he rarely sends out his team with a defensive mindset. But they have barely been out of their half so far.

  80. 9 mins:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Fulham have not touched the ball in the United half for six minutes. They are trying to soak up everything United are throwing at them. You simply cannot do that against United at Old Trafford because they will score. It's like a white wall, almost like a practice match where they smash it away and it comes straight back at them."

  81. 8 mins: 

    Ominous signs for Fulham. Wayne Rooney again finds space, this time breaking from deep at pace, but his pass to Danny Welbeck is unusually sloppy and the move breaks down.

  82. 7 mins: 

    Wayne Rooney has the first shot of the game, picking the ball up just outside the penalty area and going for goal, but his shot is blocked.

  83. 2007:  
    Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Brede Hangeland has started the game looking a bit edgy and a bit sloppy. Every time United look to come forward Fulham look out of sorts in defence."

  84. 2006: 

    Plenty of possession for Manchester United early on, with Mark Schwarzer already having several touches in the Fulham goal. That will help the big Australian, who has made a couple of uncharacteristic errors in recent weeks which have cost his team.


    Nathan Murtagh on Twitter: "United should get through tonight. This is when 19 league titles worth of experience will count."


    We're under way at Old Trafford.


    Martin Lambe on Twitter: "Fulham getting spanked tonight I'm afraid! 4-1 Welbeck scoring first with a superb header."


    James Mower on Twitter: "I'm backing Fulham tonight, don't listen to the stats."


    John in Leigh on Sea: "If Rooney's in the mood tonight then Utd to win 4-1."

  90. 1958: 

    The teams are on their way out of the tunnel at Old Trafford, where it's a cracking evening for football. Let's get some last-minute predictions...


    Paul Bennion on Twitter: "Doesn't ANYONE think Fulham can win?

  92. 1951: 

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "We've still got to win our games. The important thing is we have a deficit of goal difference and that could be an issue at the end of the season so we hope to catch that up. It's going to be a pretty tight run-in but we have to take it each game at a time. We've got an opportunity and we have to take it."

    Man Utd v Fulham (2000 BST)

    BBC Sport's Nabil Hassan reports: "Following Manchester City's slip-up at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, rivals Manchester United have the opportunity to open up a three-point gap and move back to the top of the Premier League if they can beat Fulham at Old Trafford. Having beaten the Cottagers convincingly in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Manchester United will also have one eye on City's greater goal difference and may see this game as a great chance to reduce the four-goal advantage their neighbours hold over them."


    Gilbert Yaw Asmah on Twitter: "In reply to arthur wilson on twitter, all the names he mentioned will be defending deep all night"


    Stoog in Edinburgh: "Man utd have only dropped 2 points in the 31st game of the premier league season over the last decade. Statistics clearly show Fulham have no chance tonight..."

    I have no idea if that's true but, given that tonight is only Manchester United's 30th game of the season, it's definitely bad news for Blackburn, their next opponents.

  96. 1940: 

    While Pogrebnyak has been in fine form for Fulham, Wayne Rooney has been back to his best for Manchester United in recent months, netting 10 times in his last eight games in all competitions and 16 times in his last 16. Given that Fulham have scored the fewest away goals of any team in the Premier League this season, another one tonight for the England forward could well send United back to the top of the table.

  97. 1936: 

    According to Martin Jol, one of his changes was enforced tonight, as striker Andrew Johnson pulled out of the game yesterday with a knee problem. Jol added: "We have to be brave, have a go and make it difficult for United. They are a terrific side but we hope to ask them some questions."


    Arthur Wilson on Twitter: A VERY attacking team from Fulham with Dempsey, Pogrebnyak, Duff, Frei and Dembele. Could be high scoring this one...


    Adriano Marinelli on Twitter: Looking at the United line-up this evening, it is very hard to see Fulham even getting a consolation goal.

  100. 1931: 

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, says his side are timing their title bid perfectly as they enter the final stages of the season. "We are in the right place at the right time and, most importantly, with the right players," he said. "After weeks trailing in second place we got our noses in front and I am sure our players are ready to put the pressure on again."

  101. 1929: 

    And despite a dreadful record against Manchester United - Fulham boss Martin Jol saw his side lose 5-0 at home in December and has failed to win against the Red Devils in six previous attempts while in charge of Tottenham - the Dutchman is confident the Cottagers can spring a surprise if they show confidence tonight. "You need a lot of belief in yourself to win there," said Jol. "Look at Crystal Palace in the [Carling] Cup, they did ever so well. My old team Ajax beat them and Blackburn have beaten them, so that is the feeling you need. You need to feel you're in with a chance otherwise you may as well stay in London."

  102. 1925: 

    Despite the visitors' poor record at Old Trafford, Manchester United have showed signs of weakness at home this season, losing to the likes of Blackburn and Crystal Palace. And in the likes of Pavel Pogrebnyak (five goals in five games) and Clint Dempsey (18 goals in all competitions), the Cottagers certainly have players capable of troubling the home side's defence.

  103. 1922: 

    So the statistics don't look encouraging for the visitors, but maybe I should offer Fulham fans a few reasons to be optimistic...

  104. 1918: 
    LINE-UPSMan Utd v Fulham (2000 BST)

    Man Utd: De Gea, Evra, Ferdinand, Evans, Rafael, Carrick, Giggs, Valencia, Rooney, Young, Welbeck.

    Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, JA Riise, Hangeland, Hughes, Diarra, Dempsey, Pogrebnyak, Duff, Frei, Dembele.

    Referee: Michael Oliver

  105. 1917: 

    Right, let's get the starting line-ups in full...

  106. 1916: 

    Fulham make three changes, with Aaron Hughes replacing Philippe Senderos, Damien Duff coming in for Bryan Ruiz and teenager Kerim Frei starting instead of Andrew Johnson.


    Ian in Bradford: I think tonight will be a nervy 1-0 win for United with Hernandez to score in the last 10.


    Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer on Twitter: Big big game of football tonight, will be tough but do our best!

  109. 1911: 

    Manchester United make two changes from the side that beat Wolves 5-0 just over a week ago, with Ryan Giggs replacing Paul Scholes and Ashley Young coming in for Javier Hernandez.


    It goes without saying this will be much less fun without all of you, so why not give us your thoughts on the game? Tweet us using the hashtag #bbcfootball or text us on 81111. Anyone got any pre-match predictions?


    Manchester United striker Michael Owen on Twitter: Just on my way to the game. Big one tonight. I'm starting to get itchy feet now! Getting closer to fitness.

  112. 1906: 

    Where shall we start? Well, Manchester United have won the last eight games between these sides at Old Trafford in all competitions, clocking up an aggregate score of 22-4. It is six years since Fulham scored at the Theatre of Dreams, and even then that came via a Rio Ferdinand own goal. And the Cottagers have hardly improved on the road since then. In the last six-and-three-quarter seasons, they have played 128 Premier League away games, winning a grand total of 14 matches. That's 42 points from a possible 384. Sorry Fulham (and Manchester City) fans.

  113. 1904: 

    Their opponents this evening, Fulham, will have travelled to Old Trafford in slightly less buoyant mood. Not only because they have been beaten in their last two matches, including a chastening defeat by Swansea last time out, but because every conceivable statistic points to this being a long evening for the Cottagers.

  114. 1902: 

    Yes, it's like the spring of 1996 all over again. On that occasion it was Kevin Keegan feeling the heat in the Premier League title race, as his Newcastle side tried to fend off the relentless challenge from Manchester United. This time, it's Manchester City who are in Sir Alex Ferguson's sights, and don't you just bet he's loving every second of it?

  115. 1900: 

    The mind games have begun, Manchester United are in irresistible form and Glenn Hoddle is a contender for the England job. Does anyone else feel like we've been here before?

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As It Stands Table

Barclays Premier League summary table; it charts each team by position, team name, games played, total goal difference and points
Position Team Played Goal Difference Points
No movement 1 Chelsea 26 34 60
No movement 2 Man City 26 31 55
No movement 3 Arsenal 26 20 48
No movement 4 Man Utd 26 18 47
No movement 5 Southampton 26 19 46
No movement 6 Liverpool 26 9 45
No movement 7 Tottenham 26 5 44
No movement 8 West Ham 26 8 39
No movement 9 Swansea 26 -4 37
No movement 10 Stoke 26 -4 36
No movement 11 Newcastle 26 -11 32
No movement 12 Everton 26 -4 28
No movement 13 Crystal Palace 26 -9 27
No movement 14 West Brom 26 -10 27
No movement 15 Hull 26 -10 26
No movement 16 Sunderland 26 -14 25
No movement 17 QPR 26 -18 22
No movement 18 Burnley 26 -19 22
No movement 19 Aston Villa 26 -23 22
No movement 20 Leicester 26 -18 18