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Fulham 0-4 Man Utd

By Phil McNulty

Manchester United players celebrate their third goal
Manchester United players celebrate their third goal

Manchester United remain on course for an historic quintuple after easing past Fulham into the FA Cup semi-finals.

Carlos Tevez headed the opener after 20 minutes and added his second before half-time with a 25-yard power drive.

Fulham's Andrew Johnson saw an effort bundled off the line by Nemanja Vidic, but they ended outclassed as United sealed another Wembley appearance.

Wayne Rooney got the third with a low finish after 50 minutes and Ji-Sung Park's precise shot completed the win.

United had some anxious moments early on when Fulham threatened a shock, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side rode their luck to eventually show the quality that has brought an unprecedented haul of five trophies into their sights.

Rio Ferdinand went off at half-time with an ankle injury as a precaution, and a hamstring injury to John O'Shea provided the only other cloud on their horizon.

And with victory sealed long before the end, Ferguson could even afford the luxury of taking off Wayne Rooney to preserve his energy for bigger battles ahead.

Ferguson rested Cristiano Ronaldo and Dimitar Berbatov before crucial clashes with Inter Milan in the Champions League and the pivotal Premier League meeting with Liverpool.

But any hopes Fulham had that this would have weakened United's potency were swiftly swept away by the partnership of Tevez and Rooney.

Fulham's cause was not helped by their own failure to take a succession of presentable opportunities they created in the first half.

If you make chances against this United side you must take them - and the penalties for failure are heavy.

Tevez posted the warning signals for Fulham after two minutes when keeper Mark Schwarzer dived low to his right to save superbly from the Argentine.

Vidic came to United's rescue early on when Johnson toe-poked Simon Davies' long ball beyond the stranded Edwin van der Sar, racing back desperately to clear the ball off the line.

Van der Sar then saved well from Clint Dempsey, but United were soon on the march into the last four with the opener after 20 minutes.

Anderson's corner was flicked on by Rooney, and when Paul Konchesky misjudged the flight of the ball at the far post Tevez rose to head home.

Davies then wasted another opening when he fired over the top after Bobby Zamora chested John Pantsil's cross into his path.

Rooney was guilty of a glaring miss when he slid Park's cross against the post, but United did not have to wait long to double their advantage.

If Tevez's first goal owed something to poor Fulham defending, his second after 35 minutes was all his own work of brilliance.

Traffordian Red

He picked the ball up just in Fulham territory and left Dickson Etuhu on the floor before striking a rising 25-yard drive with his right foot that gave Schwarzer no chance.

It effectively ended Fulham's hopes, but Ferdinand was still forced into a saving tackle to stop Johnson with only Van der Sar to beat.

Ferdinand was subsequently troubled by an ankle knock and he was replaced by Jonny Evans at half-time.

Rooney made amends for his earlier miss after 50 minutes when he gathered possession after more slack work from the Fulham defence, curling a precise finish beyond Schwarzer into the bottom corner from outside the area.

Ferguson removed Rooney from the action just after the hour - and just after a robust exchange with Clint Dempsey - to protect him ahead of this vital forthcoming week in United's season.

It had turned into a procession after the early show of defiance from Fulham.

And Park crowned his own industrious display nine minutes from time with another low finish past the besieged Schwarzer as United demonstrated the huge gulf in class that had emerged between the sides.

United have reached a record 26 FA Cup semi-finals and the question remains - who can halt their march towards history?

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Etuhu, Murphy (Dacourt 57), Dempsey, Zamora (Gera 67), Johnson (Kamara 60).
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Stoor, Kallio.

Booked: Pantsil, Dacourt.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea (Eckersley 52), Ferdinand (Evans 46), Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson, Park, Rooney (Welbeck 64), Tevez.
Subs Not Used: Foster, Berbatov, Giggs, Scholes.

Goals: Tevez 20, 35, Rooney 50, Park 81.

Att: 24,662

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Manchester United's Carlos Tevez 9.14 (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
Saturday's football photos
07 Mar 09 |  Football

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