Robin van Persie crowned his full debut for Manchester United with a stunning first goal for his new club in a nervy win against Fulham.
The Dutchman's strike came after Damien Duff had given the visitors the lead, and it came in a scintillating first half as Shinji Kagawa and Rafael added further goals.
David De Gea turned Mladen Petric's point-blank effort on to the bar but the United keeper then failed to reach a Fulham cross as Nemanja Vidic deflected into his own net.
"Manchester United found that three goals were enough to win all three points in their first home game of the season. It very nearly wasn't so as Fulham threw everything at United."
And when it looked like United might throw away their advantage, the Spaniard stopped Moussa Dembele's close-range shot before the home side finally restored a measure of calm to the game.
A late injury to substitute Wayne Rooney and defensive worries aside, where Michael Carrick again had moments of alarm as a stand-in centre-back, Sir Alex Ferguson's side were dominant for large periods of the game and they could easily have scored more as Kagawa hit a post and Rafael had a second goal disallowed.
The successful introduction of Van Persie in an alternative 4-2-3-1 system left United fans purring about his attacking threat and he may have to play without Rooney in coming games, after the England striker suffered a nasty gash to his thigh following his introduction as a second-half substitute.
That worrying finish to the game, when Rooney was caught by Hugo Rodallega, was in contrast to a buoyant beginning after six-time Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt was paraded to cheers of "Fergie, Fergie sign him up" before kick-off.
The party mood was punctured after three minutes, however, when Duff tucked in Bryan Ruiz's clever free-kick, although there were question marks about the hosts' marking.
The lull did not last long as the impressive Antonio Valencia probed down the right, and when Van Persie marked his full debut in stunning fashion there was a huge roar to blow away any thoughts of a spoiled occasion.
The Dutchman's goal came from the left when Patrice Evra crossed and Van Persie met it after one bounce with a superb strike into the opposite corner.
Not so Jol-ly
Martin Jol has come up against Sir Alex Ferguson nine times in the Premier League. Jol's teams drew the first two but have lost the last seven in a row.
It immediately put any minor queries about his role in the United attack to bed, and his link-up play with Kagawa just behind him showed signs of a more fluid system which could suit United in Europe.
The Japanese midfielder, a summer signing from Borussia Dortmund, then helped himself to a home debut goal on 35 minutes when he tucked in from close range after Mark Schwarzer saved Tom Cleverley's shot following a corner.
And it began a frantic 10 minutes before the break where Kagawa hit the post and Rafael had a goal disallowed for offside before the Brazilian full-back headed in Ashley Young's centre.
Fulham should have pulled one back moments later but somehow De Gea turned Petric's effort on to the bar, with Ruiz firing over from five yards.
Having established a two-goal cushion, United reduced their tempo after the interval but, similar to last season's 4-4 draw with Everton, which proved crucial in the eventual destination of the title, they carelessly let the Cottagers back into the game via a defensive howler.
There appeared to be no danger when Matthew Briggs crossed from the left but De Gea got the wrong side of Petric as Vidic inadvertently back-heeled into his own goal.
De Gea made amends for that clanger by saving twice from Dembele and he also stopped a late Ruiz header with Vidic also blocking Rodallega's shot.
And although United tested the Fulham goal further, they will hope their quartet of injured centre-backs - including Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones - is back in action soon to shore up the defence.
- 01 De Gea
- 02 Rafael
- 03 Evra
- 15 Vidic
- 07 Valencia
- 08 Anderson (Giggs - 81' )
- 16 Carrick
- 18 Young (Welbeck - 68' )
- 23 Cleverley
- 26 Kagawa (Rooney - 68' )
- 20 Van Persie
- 13 Lindegaard
- 06 Evans
- 11 Giggs
- 22 Scholes
- 10 Rooney
- 14 Hernandez
- 19 Welbeck
- 01 Schwarzer
- 05 Hangeland Booked
- 17 Briggs
- 18 Hughes
- 27 Riether
- 16 Duff
- 19 Diarra (Baird - 81' )
- 31 Kacaniklic (Sidwell - 62' )
- 10 Petric (Rodallega - 72' )
- 11 Ruiz
- 30 Dembele
- 13 Stockdale
- 02 Kelly
- 06 Baird
- 32 Halliche
- 07 Sidwell
- 08 Kasami
- 20 Rodallega
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.90:00 +7:34
Effort on goal by Ryan Giggs from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.90:00 +6:56
Bryan Ruiz takes a shot. Save by David De Gea.90:00 +1:34
Foul by Antonio Valencia on Matthew Briggs, free kick awarded. Hugo Rodallega produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick.90:00 +0:55
Corner taken by Bryan Ruiz played to the near post, Rafael Da Silva makes a clearance.90:00 +0:24
Wayne Rooney has shot on goal from just outside the area which goes wide of the right-hand upright.89:36
Hugo Rodallega gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Michael Carrick. Indirect free kick taken by David De Gea.89:06
Foul by Rafael Da Silva on Damien Duff, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Matthew Briggs.87:53
Foul by Rafael Da Silva on Damien Duff, free kick awarded. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Steve Sidwell.86:13
Tom Cleverley produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the goal.85:06
Short corner taken by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line.84:17
A cross is delivered by Tom Cleverley, Sascha Riether manages to make a clearance.82:28
Outswinging corner taken by Bryan Ruiz.81:45
Bryan Ruiz takes a shot. Patrice Evra gets a block in. Hugo Rodallega takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Carrick.80:06 Substitution
Substitution (Fulham) makes a substitution, with Chris Baird coming on for Mahamadou Diarra.80:06 Substitution
Substitution Ryan Giggs on for Oliveira Anderson.77:24
Rafael Da Silva takes a shot. Save made by Mark Schwarzer. Corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie, save by Mark Schwarzer.76:28
Wayne Rooney fouled by Mahamadou Diarra, the ref awards a free kick. Shot on goal comes in from Wayne Rooney from the free kick.74:01
Free kick awarded for a foul by Brede Hangeland on Robin van Persie. Robin van Persie produces a cross, Header from close range by Wayne Rooney clears the bar.71:52 Substitution
Substitution Hugo Rodallega comes on in place of Mladen Petric.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Oliveira Anderson by Mahamadou Diarra. Rafael Da Silva restarts play with the free kick.69:00
Moussa Dembele takes a shot. Save by David De Gea. Short corner worked by Bryan Ruiz. Moussa Dembele takes a shot. Save by David De Gea.67:36 Substitution
Substitution Wayne Rooney joins the action as a substitute, replacing Shinji Kagawa.67:36 Substitution
Substitution Ashley Young leaves the field to be replaced by Danny Welbeck.63:47
Matthew Briggs sends in a cross.63:46
The assist for the goal came from Matthew Briggs.63:46 Goal scored
Goal! - Nemanja Vidic - Man Utd 3 - 2 Fulham Nemanja Vidic concedes an own goal. Man Utd 3-2 Fulham.61:18 Substitution
Substitution Steve Sidwell replaces Alex Kacaniklic.58:07
The ball is sent over by Robin van Persie, Rafael Da Silva produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.57:17
Shinji Kagawa takes a shot. Brede Hangeland gets a block in. Short corner worked by Ashley Young.55:52
Ashley Young takes a shot. Aaron Hughes gets a block in.54:52
Michael Carrick concedes a free kick for a foul on Mladen Petric. Indirect free kick taken by Bryan Ruiz.54:20
The ball is swung over by Antonio Valencia, Bryan Ruiz makes a clearance.51:52
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Damien Duff, clearance made by Michael Carrick.50:47
Ashley Young challenges Sascha Riether unfairly and gives away a free kick. Mark Schwarzer takes the indirect free kick.47:12
Mladen Petric fouled by Michael Carrick, the ref awards a free kick. Mahamadou Diarra takes the free kick.45:01
The second half begins.45:00 +4:02 Half time
Half Time The referee calls an end to the first half.45:00 +3:22
The ball is crossed by Shinji Kagawa.45:00 +1:57
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Moussa Dembele by Tom Cleverley. Matthew Briggs takes the indirect free kick.44:08
Bryan Ruiz takes a shot from close in clearing the crossbar.43:18
Shot by Mladen Petric. Michael Carrick gets a block in.42:41
Centre by Alex Kacaniklic, Damien Duff takes a shot. David De Gea makes a save. Mladen Petric takes a shot. Blocked by David De Gea.40:29
Ashley Young provided the assist for the goal.40:29 Goal scored
Goal! - Rafael Da Silva - Man Utd 3 - 1 Fulham Rafael Da Silva finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close in. Man Utd 3-1 Fulham.39:45
Tom Cleverley takes a shot. Blocked by Aaron Hughes. Robin van Persie decides to take the corner short.37:37
Effort from inside the box by Shinji Kagawa bounces off the post. Ashley Young takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer. Rafael Da Silva is ruled offside. Mark Schwarzer restarts play with the free kick.34:52
Assist by Tom Cleverley.34:52 Goal scored
Goal! - Shinji Kagawa - Man Utd 2 - 1 Fulham Shinji Kagawa grabs a goal from close range high into the middle of the goal. Man Utd 2-1 Fulham.34:26
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie from the right by-line, Mahamadou Diarra manages to make a clearance. Shot from 20 yards by Tom Cleverley. Save by Mark Schwarzer.34:26 Booking
Booking The referee books Brede Hangeland for unsporting behaviour.34:05
The ball is delivered by Antonio Valencia, Mahamadou Diarra gets a block in.32:26
Moussa Dembele fouled by Oliveira Anderson, the ref awards a free kick. Bryan Ruiz takes the free kick.29:28
Antonio Valencia takes a shot from inside the box clearing the bar.28:34
Outswinging corner taken by Bryan Ruiz from the left by-line, Michael Carrick manages to make a clearance.27:54
Bryan Ruiz takes a short corner.26:39
Antonio Valencia delivers the ball, Aaron Hughes manages to make a clearance.23:46
Ashley Young produces a right-footed shot from close range that goes over the bar.23:11
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Damien Duff by Ashley Young. Sascha Riether takes the free kick.22:35
Shinji Kagawa takes a shot. Save made by Mark Schwarzer.20:01
The ball is swung over by Patrice Evra. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robin van Persie, clearance by Bryan Ruiz.17:15
Unfair challenge on Antonio Valencia by Matthew Briggs results in a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Robin van Persie from right by-line, Sascha Riether manages to make a clearance.16:38
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Oliveira Anderson by Moussa Dembele. Indirect free kick taken by Patrice Evra.16:12
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Damien Duff, Robin van Persie makes a clearance.15:12
Strike from close range by Rafael Da Silva clears the bar.11:47
Free kick awarded for a foul by Oliveira Anderson on Moussa Dembele. Aaron Hughes takes the free kick. Bryan Ruiz takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Carrick. Damien Duff decides to take a short corner. Alex Kacaniklic has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide right of the target.9:46
Assist by Patrice Evra.9:46 Goal scored
Goal! - Robin van Persie - Man Utd 1 - 1 Fulham Robin van Persie gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the area to the top right corner of the goal. Man Utd 1-1 Fulham.8:59
Antonio Valencia crosses the ball, clearance by Aaron Hughes.8:10
Mladen Petric challenges Nemanja Vidic unfairly and gives away a free kick. Nemanja Vidic takes the free kick.7:09
The ball is delivered by Patrice Evra. Corner taken right-footed by Ashley Young to the near post, clearance by Aaron Hughes. Short corner taken by Ashley Young.5:55
Centre by Antonio Valencia.2:18
The assist for the goal came from Bryan Ruiz.2:18 Goal scored
Goal! - Damien Duff - Man Utd 0 - 1 Fulham Damien Duff grabs a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Man Utd 0-1 Fulham.1:34
Unfair challenge on Mladen Petric by Michael Carrick results in a free kick. Bryan Ruiz takes the free kick.0:45
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mahamadou Diarra by Oliveira Anderson. Indirect free kick taken by Mahamadou Diarra.0:00
The referee gets the match started.
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