Murphy was making his first Premier League start since October
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Craven Cottage
Bobby Zamora's golden spell of form continued as Fulham cruised past a desperately disappointing Manchester United at Craven Cottage.
Zamora - touted for an England call-up in some quarters - scored his 10th goal of a prolific season and was Fulham's spearhead as they gave an injury-hit United side a harrowing afternoon.
Danny Murphy, a scourge of United when at Liverpool and now again with Fulham, put the skids under United with a low finish after 22 minutes and the champions, with Michael Owen anonymous up front, never looked like mounting a recovery.
Zamora was on the scoresheet seconds after the interval when he provided a comprehensive finish from Clint Dempsey's header, and Damien Duff's powerful drive completed a hugely-deserved victory for Roy Hodgson's side after 75 minutes.
But it was Zamora who took the honours as he terrorised a makeshift United rearguard, with Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick pressed into service in unaccustomed roles.
The striker has had a chequered relationship with Fulham's fans, but there was no doubting he has won over his critics and he was greeted with a well-earned standing ovation when he was substituted in injury time.
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United, under-strength or not, were awful and fell woefully short of taking advantage of an opportunity to put pressure on Chelsea and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table.
Sir Alex Ferguson was without Nemanja Vidic, sidelined by a calf injury, and Ryan Giggs was also out with a hamstring problem. How the champions missed them.
Tomasz Kuszczak rescued United after 17 minutes with an instinctive one-handed save from Zoltan Gera after Zamora chested the ball into his path 12 yards out.
But the goalkeeper should have done better when Fulham took the lead five minutes later.
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Paul Scholes was guilty of conceding possession 25 yards out and Murphy - scorer of Fulham's opener in their 2-0 home victory over United last season - sent a low shot past Kuszczak, who reacted late to the danger.
Scholes was then guilty of more carelessness on the ball that almost saw Fulham double their lead 14 minutes before half-time. Gera was able to find space on the right flank, but Zamora could only direct a header wide under close attention from Fletcher.
Ferguson's hopes of a fast start to the second half were in shreds within seconds of the restart as Fulham swept forward instantly to double their lead. Duff's cross was met by Dempsey at the far post, and he set up Zamora to hammer past Kuszczak.
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United made a double change after 57 minutes, with Ritchie de Laet and Darron Gibson making way for Fabio da Silva and Dimitar Berbatov.
Owen had suffered a miserable afternoon, starved of any meaningful service and unable to make the slightest impact on events, and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Danny Welbeck.
If the move was designed to revive United, it failed and Fulham extended their lead after 75 minutes when Duff cashed in on Zamora's excellent lay-off to strike a crisp finish low past Kuszczak.
There was still time for the keeper to deny a rampant Zamora one more time before referee Howard Webb put United out of their misery.
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson: "It gives us an awful lot of pleasure. We were fortunate in that we played against a very wounded United but we couldn't do more than try to take advantage of that.
"The reward is a result of the hard work we put in week after week in training and matches - it's not just because we hyped ourselves up for one superhuman effort.
"Before Bobby gets seriously considered for and England call-up he has a lot of work to do. But if Fabio Capello wants to look at him he know where he is.
"I will never push a player in the direction of a national team coach but If he needs any information on Bobby I'm happy to help out."
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