Roy Hodgson elected to go with an unchanged line-up, keeping faith with the side which so unluckily lost to Hull City on Wednesday evening. United named Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes on the bench but there was no place for Christiano Ronaldo.
Mark Schwarzer had to be alert in the second minute when a loose pass from Brede Hangeland allowed Carlos Tevez to work his way free and fire a shot on goal. Schwarzer’s reflexes were equal to the effort and John Pantsil was on hand to take the rebound away from the advancing Wayne Rooney.
Fulham started the game at a frantic pace, backed by a Cottage crowd in fine voice. The early exchanges saw both teams evenly matched. United initially struggled to get their passing game going, often looking for the decisive ball too early whilst Fulham maintained their defensive shape well.
An opportunist piece of attacking play from Andy Johnson could have given the Whites the lead in the 13th minute when the striker poked a toe at Simon Davies’ long ball. Johnson’s touch wrong-footed Edwin Van der Sar but Vidic was tracking back to clear to safety.
Clint Dempsey’s header in the 15th minute produced a routine catch from Van der Sar but Fulham were showing signs of a cutting edge against the Champions. Zamora fired well wide moments later as the Whites continued to impose themselves.
But Fulham's hard work was undone when Carlos Tevez, the shortest man on the pitch, gave United the lead in surprising fashion in the 19th minute when he drifted to the back post to head the ball in after Wayne Rooney’s flick-on from Michael Carrick’s corner kick.
The goal certainly sapped some of Fulham’s attacking momentum as United took a firm hold of proceedings and started to find their rhythm. Wayne Rooney almost made it two when Tevez chipped a delicate ball through the heart of the Fulham defence. Fortunately for the Whites, Mark Schwarzer was off his line early and did enough to force Rooney’s effort wide.
United were well on top by the half hour mark and Rooney gave the Whites a major let off when he struck the post with only Schwarzer to beat after a good cross from Park.
However Carlos Tevez soon doubled United’s lead with a brilliant individual effort. The Whites lost possession in United’s half and the ball was fed to Tevez who ran 40 yards before curling an unstoppable shot past Schwarzer.
Andy Johnson managed to wriggle free from Rio Ferdinand in the 38th minute to run onto Bobby Zamora’s flicked pass. Johnson was able to get his shot away but Ferdinand did well to recover and block.
As the first half drew to a close the Whites attacked with more regularity but the pace with which United were able to snap back into their defensive shape after losing possession was making life difficult for Fulham. Bobby Zamora, who was proving to be a thorn in United’s side, forced a good block from Van der Sar after he was set free down the left side of United’s defence. The first half closed out with Schwarzer making a good save from O’Shea.
United netted a third goal shortly after the restart after Fulham failed to clear from the edge of the penalty area and the Anderson picked out Wayne Rooney who placed a low shot beyond Schwarzer and into the back of the net. – effectively killing the tie.
Danny Murphy made way for Olivier Dacourt on 56 minutes as Roy Hodgson looked to give the loan signing from Inter Milan some game time. Andrew Johnson was replaced soon after as Diomansy Kamara came on. The changes made little initial impact as Fulham remained under intense pressure. Ji-Sung Park forced Schwarzer into a good save on 62 minutes after the Whites lost possession in a dangerous area.
Roy Hodgson made his third and final substitution of the match on 67 minutes when Zoltan Gera replaced Bobby Zamora. Clint Dempsey moved up front and Gera took up position on the left side of Fulham’s midfield.
Fulham were not without attacking instincts however the final pass was proving a difficult one to find, often letting down some promising attacking situations. Whilst in contrast United were working potential goal scoring opportunities with alarming regularity.
Ji-Sung Park netted United’s fourth of the game after he intercepted a risky square pass from Zoltan Gera. The United player made his way to the edge of the Fulham area and placed a low shot past Schwarzer.
Competition: The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON
Date: Saturday 7 March 2009
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Team line-up is not available.
Team line-up is not available.