Saturday, 25 August 2012

Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa marked their home debuts with goals

Robin van Persie and
Shinji Kagawa marked
their home debuts
with goals as
Manchester United
picked up their first
points of the season
with a 3-2 victory over
Fulham, but Wayne
Rooney suffered a
potentially serious
injury in the closing
stages.
Sir Alex Ferguson
produced a selection
surprise as the United
manager left Rooney
on the bench and gave
van Persie his first start
in response to
Monday’s surprise 1-0
defeat at Everton.
It looked a gamble
when Damien Duff
opened the scoring in
the third minute but
van Persie scored a first
goal since his £24
million move from
Arsenal and Japan
midfielder Kagawa
touched in from close-
range to add a second.
Rafael headed in the
third but Nemanja
Vidic’s own goal halved
the lead before Rooney
was brought on for the
final 22 minutes.
The England forward
was clearly desperate
to make an impression
but instead finished
the match stretchered
off in agony after
suffering a deep gash
to his thigh when he
attempted to block
Hugo Rodallega’s
stoppage-time effort.
Six-time Olympic gold
medallist Usain Bolt
was paraded on the
pitch before the match
with the home fans
urging Ferguson to
sign the Jamaican.
But the sprinter had
not even reached his
seat in the directors’
box when Fulham took
a surprise lead.
Michael Carrick clipped
Mladen Petric on the
edge of the area and a
Bryan Ruiz free-kick
picked out Duff, who
shrugged off Ashley
Young, to turn a low
short past David de Gea
at the near post.
United immediately
pressed for an
equaliser but with van
Persie dropping into
deep and wide areas,
there was no-one in
the box when Kagawa
fed Ashley Young, who
put a fine cross into the
area.
But after nine minutes,
United pulled
themselves level with
van Persie scoring with
his first shot in United
colours.
Anderson clipped a ball
left to Patrice Evra and
the French defender
sent over a cross that
van Persie met on the
half-volley, glancing
the ball across his body
and past the helpless
Mark Schwarzer.
The home team
maintained all of the
pressure but struggled
to carve out decent
openings, with Rafael
lifting a shot over and
Kagawa having a long-
range effort easily held
by Schwarzer.
Ten minutes before the
interval United moved
in front with Fulham’s
players furiously
appealing for offside.
Van Persie’s corner was
headed away by
Mahamadou Diarra and
Tom Cleverley’s
powerful rebound was
pushed out by
Schwarzer only as far
as Kagawa, who
finished from a couple
of yards.
Moments later, United
came close to adding a
third when Kagawa’s
effort came back off
the post and Schwarzer
saved Young’s follow-
up before Rafael
touched in from an
offside position.
But the Brazilian did
add United’s third
when Fulham failed to
clear van Persie’s
corner and Young lifted
a cross to the far post
for the right-back to
head in for his first
goal since December
2009.
The frenzied action
continued when De
Gea blocked Duff’s
effort and then turned
Petric’s effort on to the
bar.
United continued to
dominate after the
restart without ever
troubling Schwarzer.
And they allowed
Martin Jol’s team back
into the contest
midway through the
second period with a
De Gea error.
Matthew Briggs swung
in a cross from the left
that De Gea failed to
claim and the ball
bounced in off Vidic.
Rooney was brought
on with a quarter of
the match left but De
Gea was forced into
two impressive saves
from Moussa Dembele
— one from distance
and one from close-
range — to preserve
United’s advantage.
Rooney headed wide
from a van Persie free-
kick and then hit a
free-kick of his own
straight at the wall
before suffering his
late injury blow that
will leave United and
England sweating over
his fitness.

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