Manchester United vs. Fulham  3 - 2


Kagawa ´relieved´ after first United goal

26 August 2012 09:05

Manchester United new boy Shinji Kagawa was relieved after scoring his first goal for the club in their home opener, a 3-2 win against Fulham.

The former Borussia Dortmund star was fortunate to be in the right place at the

right time after pouncing on the rebound from Tom Cleverley's shot to beat a

helpless Mark Schwarzer.

"I worried that I might have been offside," Kagawa told Nikkan afterwards.

"I'm glad the timing worked out. I wanted to score a

goal somehow, so I'm relieved I could do so at our first home game."

While there were questions surrounding Kagawa's role at the club following the

blockbuster signing of Robin van Persie from Arsenal, the Japan international's

dynamic 68-minute performance seems to have erased any doubts that he will be a

valuable asset to Sir Alex Ferguson.

"It's important that I keep playing well in each match," Kagawa said.

"I don't have time to enjoy the moment. Next time I

want to score a goal on my own terms."


Rooney facing a month out

25 August 2012 19:38

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney could be out for four weeks after suffering a deep gash on his thigh in their 3-2 win over Fulham.

The striker looks set to miss a considerable amount of playing time for both club and country, with England set to take on Macedonia and Ukraine in early September, while United face off against Southampton, Wigan and Liverpool within the next month.

Coming off the substitutes' bench with just over 20 minutes remaining, a clash with Hugo Rodallega in injury time forced the England international to be stretchered from the pitch with a nasty cut to his leg.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed after the game that Rooney had been sent to hospital.

"It's a very bad gash. He's been sent to hospital and I think he'll be out for four weeks," Ferguson told Sky Sports.

"Rodallega followed through after his shot. Obviously it was an accident."

Fulham took the lead after just three minutes when Damien Duff latched onto Bryan Ruiz's free-kick.

United responded strongly with three first-half goals from Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Rafael - the former two with their first for the club.

A mix-up in defence between David de Gea and Nemanja Vidic saw the centre-back knocking the ball into his own net with 25 minutes still to play, but the west London outfit could not find the equaliser.

Ferguson was delighted with Van Persie's contribution to the result.

"It was a fantastic finish from Van Persie, absolutely brilliant," he said.

"That typifies the goalscoring ability he has and it really lifted the place - we played very well from that moment.

"I'm pleased for both him and Kagawa. It's still early doors for them, Robin has not really played with the team much and this was his first real game and that will get better."

Fulham boss Martin Jol, meanwhile, was disappointed with his side's mindset after they scored the first goal, suggesting they had been intimidated by leading at Old Trafford.

"We're a football team and if we do that we can control games, even away from home against United, and that was why it was unacceptable for us," Jol said.

"Maybe we were too modest, maybe because of the size of the club.

"But in the second half we promised ourselves that we would play the football we can play and that was a lot better, and I have to say I enjoyed the second half."

Meanwhile, Jol said he was ready to welcome back want-away striker Clint Dempsey.

"I am not a person who would not forgive a player because I left them last year and I have not seen them much this year," Jol said.

The United States international has been linked with a move to Liverpool throughout the offseason, and Rodgers was quoted as saying "Clint is a player we've inquired about" on the website of Liverpool's owners.

But Jol is determined to find a solution.

"I think there could be a resolution if Dempsey wants to stay. What can I do?

"I can't send him to the non-league or put him on loan at Stevenage or something. I would love to keep him and just sit down with him.

"Maybe something will happen in the next week."


Premier League: Manchester United 3 Fulham 2

25 August 2012 18:38

Manchester United took their first Premier League points of the season with a 3-2 win over Fulham, but were made to work hard by Martin Jol's men.

Damien Duff gave the visitors a shock lead from a clever set-piece with just three minutes on the clock, but Robin van Persie's brilliant equaliser got United back on level terms seven minutes later.

The hosts appeared to be cruising at half-time after Shinji Kagawa and Rafael increased their lead but an own goal from Nemanja Vidic following confusion in the goalmouth provided a nervy ending.

United, who opted to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench in favour of new boy Van Persie, were on the back foot almost immediately, when some clever work from Mladen Petric on the left-hand side tempted the returning Rafael into a needless foul just outside the box.

Bryan Ruiz stepped up to take the free-kick and his clever, low delivery caught the hosts' backline napping and allowed Duff to capitalise as he side-footed into the bottom corner.

The Old Trafford crowd was stunned into silence, but United hit back soon after.

A patient build-up from Ferguson's men allowed Patrice Evra into space on the left and, though the full-back's cross was not ideal, debutant Van Persie's first-time shot past Mark Schwarzer was exquisite.

That strike settled the hosts into their usual rhythm of relentless attack, but the chances were not forthcoming as Fulham began to tighten up and grow into the game.

United were struggling to break down a stubborn Fulham defence, but Tom Cleverley's thunderous drive on 35 minutes proved too hot to handle for Schwarzer and provided Kagawa with the easiest of tap-ins on his home debut.

Just six minutes later, a fine passing move released Ashley Young on the left and the former Aston Villa man dinked intelligently to the far post for the approaching Rafael to nod home and put his side 3-1 up.

The game was fought much more evenly after the break, with United taking their foot off the accelerator.

The decreasing tempo appeared to suit the London outfit, and their increasing grip on the game was underlined as they grabbed an unlikely goal with 65 minutes on the clock.

A hopeful ball into the box from the left-hand side tempted David De Gea into a needless attempt at a punch, and the Spaniard found himself sandwiched between Nemanja Vidic and Petric, with the ball coming off the former's heel and bouncing into the goal.

Fulham were clearly buoyed by the goal and almost got themselves back on level terms after a run from Moussa Dembele saw the Belgian find space in the box to force De Gea into an excellent reaction save.

But that revival appeared short-lived, with the introduction of Rooney and Danny Welbeck from the bench in place of Young and Kagawa giving the hosts further impetus.

Rooney's stay was shortlived, however, with the striker stretchered off with a nasty cut to his thigh late in the game, much to the concern of a subdued Old Trafford crowd.

Fulham very nearly stole a point at the death, but De Gea made up for his earlier error by producing a couple of excellent saves to deny Dembele.


Carrick: Van Persie will be the difference

25 August 2012 12:36

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick believes Robin van Persie can be the difference in this season's title race.

The 31-year-old says the Dutchman's arrival at Old Trafford has given everyone a 'big boost' and believes his goals can help Sir Alex Ferguson's side regain the English Premier League title.

The England international says he was as excited as anyone upon hearing the news of van Persie's transfer from Arsenal.

He told The Times of India: "Of course I was (excited) – it's great news. We want the best players in the club and he is certainly in that category. It's been well publicised that we've been chasing him and it's a big boost for us to get him."

Manchester City won the title on goal difference on a dramatic final day last season and Carrick insists the addition of van Persie to the squad will help United go one step further this time around.

"He is certainly going to strengthen our squad," he said.

"People keep asking if it can make the difference between finishing second and first – and all I can say is there wasn't much difference between us and City last year so hopefully we can go one step further this time."

However, Carrick reiterated that Manchester United are not about individuals, saying the entire squad will have to play their part in order to overturn their city rivals.

"At United it's never about one player – it's always about the team and in fact the squad. We have so much strength in depth here, that's why we win so much," Carrick said.

United's next game is against Fulham at Old Trafford on Saturday, and Carrick will be hoping his side can bounce back from their defeat at Everton.

"We didn't start well by losing at Everton in the opening game, which was a big disappointment," Carrick said.

"But there is a long way to go and we need to start winning and get on a run now. We've got a tough game against Fulham but we want to win it."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25