FULHAM 0, MAN UNITED 5.
MANCHESTER United sent out a clear message that they don’t intend to relinquish their Barclays Premier League title without a fight.
The Reds were at their ruthless best at Craven Cottage where leaders City had been held earlier in the campaign.
And after failing themselves to win at Fulham on their last three visits, this was an impressive way to end that spell of disappointing results.
“Our first-half performance was first class and as good as we have played all season,” enthused Sir Alex Ferguson.
The United manager added it is a difficult place to come two as indicated by the fact they had only picked up one point from their three previous visits.
It was also achieved despite a crippling injury list – Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher, Anderson, Tom Cleverley, Fabio and Michael Owen.
The absence of Ferdinand with a foot injury meant a return to centre back for Phil Jones while keeper Anders Lindegaard and Ryan Giggs won call ups.
Jones’ night ended early, however, as he was caught by a flying forearm of Clint Dempsey in the second minute sustaining a suspected fractured cheekbone.
He was also clearly concussed and, after manfully soldering in, went off after 20 minutes. He was replaced by Ashley Young who also departed early after being clattered by Dickson Etuhu.
The back-to-form Nani was the inspiration behind United’s 3-0 interval lead scoring once and also providing assists for the goals scored by Danny Welbeck and Giggs.
United made the breakthrough in the sixth minute when Nani’s great run opened the Cottagers’ defence and Welbeck steered a shot low to the left of keeper David Stockdale.
Nani doubled the lead just short of the half hour with a flicked header from a Giggs cross.
Giggs made it 3-0 shortly before half time with a shot with deflected off Philippe Sendersos before it looped over Stockdale. The goal extended his record of having scored in every Premier League campaign while it was also the 19,999th Premier League goal.
It might have been a wider margin at the break had Stockdale not saved from Nani and Giggs while United were denied a penalty when Senderos clattered into Welbeck from behind, but referee Mark Halsey was unmoved.
Fulham improved after the break and United had to wait until the 88th minute before finding the net again, a 30-yard drive from Wayne Rooney on his 300th Premier League appearance.
Then right at the death substitute Dimitar Berbatov provided the icing with the fifth goal, an audacious back heel after being set up by Nani and Antonio Valencia.