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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Fulham 2-0 Man Utd

By Caroline Cheese

Paul Scholes handles Bobby Zamora's header
Scholes could have no complaints about his red card for handling Zamora's header

Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney were sent off as Manchester United's title hopes took another shock blow at Fulham.

Scholes saw red after 18 minutes for handling Bobby Zamora's header, Danny Murphy dispatching the penalty.

And as United pressed for a second-half equaliser, Zoltan Gera struck on the break with a superb control and finish.

Seconds later, Rooney threw the ball away in frustration to earn a second booking on a miserable day for United, whose lead could be cut to one point.

It was a historic result for Fulham, as it was for United - although not one they will look back on with any fondness.

Fulham had not beaten United at home in 45 years, while the visitors, beaten by Liverpool last weekend, had not lost successive league games since 2005.


The Cottagers' celebrations at the final whistle will surely have been matched at Anfield. Victory for Liverpool against Aston Villa on Sunday will see United's lead cut to just one point, albeit with a game in hand.

Sir Alex Ferguson, who at least saw Chelsea beaten by Spurs on an incredible day in the Premier League, will need all his managerial experience to galvanise his troops ahead of the visit of Aston Villa on 5 April.

United's frustration at Craven Cottage was epitomised by Cristiano Ronaldo, who twice had to be warned by referee Phil Dowd for his petulant complaining and was booked for a reckless lunge at Murphy in the second half.

In truth, Ronaldo, like his team-mates, was completely out of sorts, harried into giving the ball away with shocking regularity in a first half in which Fulham were rampant.

Fortune and team effort delight Hodgson

Roy Hodgson's side, who had leaked seven goals without response in their two previous games against United this season, peppered Van der Sar's goal with 10 shots before half-time, while limiting the opposition to just two.

Quicker in the tackle and always willing to test Van der Sar from distance, they fully deserved their lead when it came.

Former Fulham keeper Van der Sar did well to keep out Zamora's header from a corner, but the rebound came straight back to the striker and as he nodded towards goal, Scholes instinctively put his arms up.

Scholes knew what was coming as he stayed on his knees, looking ruefully at the ground.

As the midfielder trudged down the tunnel, Murphy confidently stroked the penalty high into the net.

It continued an incredible scoring record for Murphy, who three times gave Liverpool a 1-0 win against United in his Anfield days.

Fulham continued to take the game to United, with Zamora in particular terrorising the visitors' creaking defence.

They should have had a second when Andrew Johnson miscontrolled and then Clint Dempsey blazed over from a good position.

And it looked as if Fulham would pay for failing to make the most of their dominance as United came out fighting after the break.

Dimitar Berbatov, who landed awkwardly on his ankle at the end of the first half, was replaced by Rooney at half-time and the change gave United some much-needed urgency.

Phelan plays down defeat by Fulham

Darren Fletcher shot too close to Schwarzer after a one-two with Ronaldo, who could also only find the keeper with a free header from Rooney's cross.

United fans were on their feet when Ronaldo set up Ji-Sung Park in front of goal but Schwarzer not only kept his effort out but was up quickly to keep out Rooney's follow-up.

And Fulham wrapped up victory through Gera, who had his back to goal when he collected Johnson's cross but managed to flick the ball up and hook it home.

The sight of the second goal going in proved too much to bear for Rooney, who threw the ball away when a free-kick was taken from the wrong place to pick up his second booking.

The England striker gave Dowd a volley of abuse before storming down the tunnel, punching the corner flag for good measure on the way.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Dempsey (Gera 81), Murphy (Dacourt 67), Etuhu, Davies, Johnson, Zamora (Kamara 77).
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Stoor, Kallio.

Booked: Pantsil, Dempsey.

Goals: Murphy 18 pen, Gera 87.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea (Tevez 70), Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Scholes, Park, Giggs, Berbatov (Rooney 46).
Subs Not Used: Foster, Neville, Anderson, Carrick, Fabio Da Silva.

Sent Off: Scholes (18), Rooney (89).

Booked: Evans, Evra, Ronaldo, Rooney.

Att: 25,652

Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Fulham's Danny Murphy 8.12 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Ferguson angry at Rooney red card
21 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Tottenham 1-0 Chelsea
21 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
21 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
21 Mar 09 |  Football

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