LONDON (AP) — Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney led Manchester United to a convincing 3-1 victory at Fulham and their team's first back-to-back wins in the Premier League under coach David Moyes on Saturday.
Goals from Antonio Valencia, Van Persie and Rooney put the game beyond Fulham's reach with just over 20 minutes on the clock at Craven Cottage. After a series of knocks and perhaps an eye on Tuesday's Champions League game with Real Socieded, the commanding lead also allowed Moyes to make wholesale changes at halftime — with Rafael, Jonny Evans and Tom Cleverley being replaced by Chris Smalling, Shinji Kagawa and Marouane Fellaini.
Alexander Kacaniklic pulled a goal back for Fulham with a shot that deflected in off Rooney in the 65th minute. But there was little prospect of a comeback in a game that will keep the pressure on Fulham manager Martin Jol, whose side was beaten by second-tier Leicester in the League Cup in midweek.
For Moyes, it was an encouraging fourth consecutive win in all competitions. United spent the early stages looking clumsy — but not quite as ponderous as Fulham's Swiss defender Philippe Senderos. A through ball from Van Persie caught out the center-back and found Rooney, whose squared ball from the left was directed home by Valencia.
The hosts soon hit back and only a fine challenge by Rafael denied them the chance of an equalizer. Scott Parker sent a superb ball to former United striker Dimitar Berbatov, only for the Brazilian right-back to thwart the Bulgarian as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Fulham duly paid for the missed opportunity. Parker looked to have been fouled by Adnan Januzaj but the referee allowed play to continue. The teenager played through Van Persie and, despite looking to have been offside, continued to lash the ball past countryman Maarten Stekelenburg.
Two minutes later, United moved even further ahead. This time Fernando Amorebieta was the guilty offender, with Van Persie getting behind his man and squaring for Rooney to slot home from close range.
Fulham looked rejuvenated after the restart, with Pajtim Kasami drilling a shot just wide as the Whites pushed for a goal that came in the 65th minute. After Fellaini headed into the side-netting at the other end, Kacaniklic, four minutes after coming on, saw his strike from the edge of the box turned past David De Gea by Rooney.
Januzaj saw a penalty appeal waved away seven minutes later, before Smalling headed away an effort from Berbatov. Kacaniklic scooped the ball over the top as the match entered the final 10 minutes, with chants of 'You don't know what you're doing' from disgruntled Fulham aimed at Jol after he replaced Parker with Darren Bent.
The on-loan striker soon hushed those fans up with a header that hit the crossbar, while Adel Taarabt forced De Gea into a late save and Kieran Richardson headed just wide.