MAN UNITED 4, FULHAM 1.
Manchester United’s passage to the last 16 of the FA Cup with Budweiser was, if anything, too easy as they cruised to victory against Fulham at Old Trafford.
From the moment United were awarded a penalty with little over 60 seconds played, it was an embarrassingly one-sided contest.
And with more clinical finishing, United’s under-strength side could conceivably have hit double figures as they found little resistance from a poor Cottagers’ side.
In the end they won though Ryan Giggs’ early penalty and second-half goals from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez who found the net twice.
Sir Alex Ferguson described it as a reasonably comfortable performance saying he was pleased with the display of his side.
The Reds’ manager was especially pleased to see Rooney and Hernandez on the scoresheet.
He said: “Chicarito scored twice to make it 14 for the season and it was great to see Rooney scoring.
“If we can get those two and Robin van Persie around the 20 goal mark, we will be in business.”
Ferguson added that Hernandez is benefiting from a break last summer saying he is unfortunate sometimes to lose his place to van Persie explaining that he remains highly thought of at Old Trafford.
The United manager added that it was decided to give Rooney a rest from penalty-taking after two misses in the current campaign and a total of ten in his career.
“It was time to give him a break, but the great thing it that it doesn’t faze him if he misses a penalty.”
United made an early breakthrough when Aaron Hughes was penalised for handball.
After spot-kick misses by Rooney, Hernandez, Nani and Robin van Persie in the current campaign, Giggs was entrusted with the kick which squeezed past keeper Mark Schwarzer.
Remarkably it was the only goal of an absurdly one sided opening half when the biggest danger for United was themselves as they became complacent due to their dominance.
United ought to have been awarded a second penalty after 20 minutes when Damien Duff clearly handled as he controlled a Giggs pass by allowing it to run down his arm, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on.
Of the ten clear-cut chance United created in the opening period, Rooney came closest with a shot Schwarzer deflected on to the crossbar.
Fulham’s one and only opening came when Sascha Rielher made an overlapping run on the right and fired just wide.
United ought to have doubled their advantage soon after the restart when Schwarzer denied Nani with Rooney’s follow-up blocked on the line by Hughes.
The game was soon over as a contest when United scored twice in the space of two minutes to put the game beyond the reach of Fulham.
Anderson’s great through ball released Rooney who made no mistake while Hernandez fired home the third on the turn after a delightful interchange of passes involving Rooney and Nani.
Hernandez added a fourth goal midway through the half when his shot deflected off the unlucky Hughes to wrong foot Schwarzer.
Hughes made happier headlines with 13 minutes left when he found the net for Fulham with a powerful near-post header following a corner from Giorgos Karagounis.
United could have added to their goal tally in the latter stages when Shinji Kagawa fired just over, Nani not far wide and Rooney had a goal ruled out following a foul by Hernandez in the build up.