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Fulham 1-3 Man Utd Prem 10 1314 Daily Star

last updated Monday 04th November 2013, 11:08 AM
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Adrian Stiles at Daily Star

Fulham (0) 1 Man Utd (3) 3

Fulham 1-3 Man Utd Prem 10 1314 Daily Star Premier League, Shahid Khan, Martin Jol, Fulham, Man Utd, match report IT HAS been a long time ­coming - but Manchester United's title charge might finally be getting under way.

David Moyes has been under the cosh as his side have failed to keep up with the early pacesetters.

But after Antonio Valencia, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney delivered a three-goal blitz in the opening 22 ­minutes, the pressure on the new United manager finally eased.

"Our job is to climb the league table. We want to be nearer the top and I have no doubt that by the end of the season we will," said Moyes.

"Where we are just now I don't think is really that important, except that you don't want to let the teams get too far away from you. We have to keep building on recent performances."

There is still a long way to go before the Old Trafford giants can claim to be back in the thick of the chase - and they were forced to withstand second-half pressure after Alex Kacaniklic got one back for Fulham.

But a fourth successive victory - and their first back-to-back wins in the ­Premier League this season - is a sure sign of progress.

But while Moyes felt relief, Fulham boss Martin Jol was left feeling the heat as he once again found himself the ­target of boos and chants of, 'Jol out'.

It took Rooney and Van Persie just nine minutes to unlock the home ­defence and set United on course for victory. On this occasion it was Van Persie who dropped off to collect Patrice Evra's pass before turning and playing the ball inside Philippe Senderos.

The Cottagers' centre-back was caught out by the delivery and left stranded as Rooney ­advanced into the area.

Fulham keeper Maarten Stekelenburg held the ­striker up ­momentarily - but that allowed Rooney to steady ­himself and square for Valencia who slotted home from close range.

It was Valencia's first league goal of the ­campaign - and at that stage it looked like it might be the first of many for the ­visitors.

United were playing with a swagger that has been missing for much of this season while Fulham looked a side in ­trouble.

An early spell of pressure raised home hopes that Jol's side might be able to bounce back from last weekend's shambolic ­display at Southampton.

They had also lost at Leicester in a ­Capital One Cup clash in midweek. And it soon became clear they faced another long, hard struggle if they were to avoid another crushing defeat.

Jol had admitted beforehand he ­expected more from Dimitar Berbatov, who has had little impact in the ­opening months.

Nonetheless, the striker was ­handed the captain's armband in the ­absence of the injured Brede Hangeland.

And he should have ­levelled in the 19th minute when his run was spotted by Scott Parker - only for ­Rafael to clear the danger superbly.

United then doubled their lead with a controversial second.

The home side were convinced ­Parker was fouled by Adnan Januzaj and that Van Persie was offside when he ran on to the youngster's through-ball - and ­replays suggested they had a case. But the assistant-referee's flag stayed down and Van Persie despatched a ­stunning left-foot ­finish into the roof of the net.

The striker is now the leading Dutch scorer in the Premier League, having overtaken former Chelsea man Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink with his strike here.

The Fulham crowd gave the match ­officials both barrels - but the boos were directed at their dug out two ­minutes later when Rooney made it three.

This time Van Persie was the provider, making his way to the by-line before picking out Rooney, who ­side-footed in from just three yards out.

"I thought there were real signs of great combination between them," said Moyes of his strike-pair.

United were in cruise control and took their foot off the gas - and Moyes made a ­triple substitution at half-time with one eye on Tuesday's trip to Real ­Sociedad in the Champions League.

Fulham, booed off at half-time, were given an early lift when Kacaniklic ­reduced the deficit with a shot that flew past David de Gea off Rooney's boot.

Substitute Darren Bent hit the bar on 84 minutes to hand United a late scare.

"We played poorly for a short time and they went through us like a knife through butter. If you want to do well, you can't do that," said Jol.

"It's not nice to hear the crowd ­booing but it's better they are booing me than booing the players."

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