FULHAM manager Martin Jol bemoaned a “horror scenario” after suffering the club’s heaviest home league defeat for 24 years as Manchester United kept up the pressure on their table-topping neighbours.
Goals from Danny Welbeck, Nani, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov earned United a fourth successive Premier League win and kept them two points behind Manchester City.
But it was a dreadful night for Fulham, who slipped to a third home league defeat in five games and dropped to 13th in the table, just four points above the relegation zone.
“It was too easy for them. If you have eight attempts and score five goals, as they did, it’s a horror scenario,” said Jol, who left unsettled striker Bobby Zamora on the bench until the 85th minute. “To concede an early goal is not good for your confidence. It’s not easy to get back into the game.”
The only sour notes for United manager Sir Alex Ferguson were injuries to defender Phil Jones, who will have an X-ray on his jaw today, and winger Ashley Young, who has been ruled out for up to three weeks.
United took just five minutes to take the lead, Welbeck sweeping across Stockdale and into the far corner after Nani was allowed to stroll all the way down the left flank and cut back.
More poor defending ushered United’s second just before the half hour, Nani being left unmarked to glance home an inswinging Giggs cross from the right.
Fulham rode their luck when Philippe Senderos appeared to bundle over Welbeck in the box, but that luck changed two minutes before half-time when Giggs’ shot ricocheted off the Switzerland centre-back and looped over stranded goalkeeper David Stockdale.
An abject home performance improved after half-time, with Andy Johnson finally testing Anders Lindegaard twice, but no sooner had Jol belatedly thrown on Zamora than United scored two more in the last three minutes seemingly at will.
First Rooney meandered forward and nonchalantly spanked a banana shot that swerved away and past Stockdale, then substitute Berbatov applied a deliciously languid backheel to Luis Antonio Valencia’s low right-wing cross.