Manchester United have earned passage to the 5th round of the FA Cup after a calm and comfortable victory over a poor Fulham side. What a joy it was to watch the legendary Ryan Giggs dance and float at the Theatre of Dreams.
This was a pretty one-sided affair and if anything, the 4-1 scoreline flattered a woeful Fulham side. Perhaps most worryingly, that was basically a full-strength team for the visitors. Manchester United were in complete control throughout the match and if it wasn't for wastefulness in attack -- particularly in the first-half -- and for some shocking refereeing from Mark Clattenburg, United would have been out of sight early in the match.
It was a quick start for the Red Devils as just 75 seconds into the contest, a United corner resulted in an Aaron Hughes handball in the box. Up stepped Ryan Giggs for the penalty (and not Wayne Rooney) and the legend slotted the ball home -- Mark Schwarzer did get a hand on it though. United continued to dominate throughout the first-half but Rooney and Nani were quite wasteful. In the 20th minute though, Giggs should have gotten another penalty chance after Damien Duff clearly touched the ball with his hand in the box. The home side went into half-time with just a 1-0 lead.
A pattern this season has been United coming out of the break sluggish, usually in the first 15 minutes or so in the second-half. That wasn't the case in this game. Despite being awful for most of the match, Rooney did add a second United goal in the 50th minute -- the England international smashed in a left-footed shot after a lovely through-ball from Anderson. Just two minutes later, Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) joined in on the goalscoring action when he half-volleyed into the corner of the goal from a Nani flick. The game was essentially decided at this moment.
In the 65th minute, United poured in another: the spectacular Giggs slipped Chicharito through and the Mexican had his brace after he cut back and found the back of the net after a deflection off of Hughes. At this point, it felt like the Red Devils would fly to a 6-0 or 7-0 sort of victory. No more goals came for the home side though. The away side found a consolation goal in the 76th minute -- which was their first shot on target -- when Hughes headed in from a corner after shambolic defending from Rooney. The match would finish 4-1 to United.
Overall, it was a very positive occasion for Sir Alex Ferguson's side. A number of players in need of a game (i.e. Chris Smalling, Anderson, Rooney, Nani, and Chicharito) got one while some of those in need of rest (i.e. Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, and Robin van Persie) were able to sit back and relax. For the fans, it was a treat to watch the 39-years-old Giggs boss the match. It was encouraging to see positive performances from the likes of Chicharito, Anderson, Michael Carrick, Phil Jones, and Chris Smalling as well. Perhaps the only valid complaint was the poor Rooney. Nani frustrated as times as well with his end product and decision-making but to his credit, he did look lively at times -- this is encouraging when considering his struggles this season and the overall struggles of the squad's wingers. A clean and comfortable victory for United and they're now onto the 5th Round of the FA Cup.
Manchester United man of the match?
Ryan Giggs (51 votes)
Chicharito (38 votes)
Michael Carrick (1 vote)
Anderson (26 votes)
Other (please share in the comments) (2 votes)
118 total votes