Attendance – 75,352
Manchester United 4 – 0 Fulham
P Scholes – 51
J Hernandez – 63
A Buttner – 66
N Powell – 82
‘Paul Scholes, still scores goals’ were the words of the commentators after Scholes, playing his 700th game for the club, opened the scoring in the second half. Wigan were proving a tough to crack for the first half but Scholes’s opener, early in the second half opened up the flood gates. Hernandez doubled the lead with a neatly deflected shot. Debutant Buttner, the debutant capped off his brilliant performance in the game with a tenacious goal. Nick Powell, another debutant finished off things with a screamer from 25 yards out. To be fair to Roberto Martinez’s men, Wigan held fort superbly in the first half and even had a couple of good chances of their own. They fell apart after United took the lead and never looked to have any comeback in them. The United manager will be happy to have finally seen his team keeping a clean sheet.
Man Utd: Lindegaard, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Buttner, Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Hernandez, Welbeck. Subs: De Gea, Evans, Valencia, van Persie, Cleverley, Powell, Kagawa.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Caldwell, Ramis, Figueroa, Maloney, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Kone, Di Santo. Subs: Pollitt, Jones, Crusat, Watson, Gomez, Boselli, Miyaichi.
Manchester United – Specualations were rife since the international matches about Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, not being fit enough to participate. Sir Alex Ferguson, in his pre-match press conference put an end to this and declared both to be fit and available for selection. Lindegaard kept his place in goal with Vidic and Ferdinand at the centre of defense. Ferdinand co-incidentally completing 400 appearances for the club. Rafael continued at right back while Evra’s injury meant that Alexander Buttner, the Dutch full back recently signed made a debut. Carrick partnered Scholes, who was making his 700th appearance for United. Nani started on the right and Giggs on the left, making his 600th league appearance for United. Welbeck partnered Hernandez up front with last time hat-trick hero Persie confined to the bench.
Wigan – Roberto Martinez knew he was up against it at Old Trafford, yet decided to play with 2 upfront. Kone and Santo leading the attack. Al Habsi, was the obvious choice in goal. Figueroa, Boyce and Caldwell, who have started the previous games remained intact forming a back 3. McCarthy partnered McArthur in the middle of the park. The ammunition from the left and right for Wigan came in the form of Beausejour and Maloney. Wigan were not prepared to sit back and defend. Their attacking lineup clearly displayed that.
The home team kicked of the first half. United kept the early possession and made Wigan chase shadows. Controversy started early in the match when Welbeck, went down a little too easily with a challenge from Habsi and the referee pointed to spot. Replays showed that Habsi pulled out of the challenge at the last moment and Welbeck went down looking for the penalty. Hernandez stepped up. The law of averages did its job and poetic justice was done when Hernandez hit a poor penalty which was easily saved by the Egyptian. Persie, missed a penalty against Southampton and Hernandez missing wouldn’t impress the manager. The match moved at a very slow pace from there on and neither team really had a clear cut chance. United were dominating possession but never found the killer pass and Wigan were holding strong. Welbeck, improvised and stuck a volley just wide of the post. Wigan had a half chance when Buttner conceded a free kick and Ramis headed the resulting free kick just wide. That was as close as any team got in a rather insipid first half of football. Both teams went into the dressing room looking for inspiration from somewhere.
The second half followed the pattern of the first half and United did some neat passing but couldn’t find the net. The breakthrough wasn’t far away though. Nani, who a constant menace on the right side received the ball after a bit of scramble. Nani sent it a shot-cum-cross which could only be parried away by the Wigan keeper and Scholes was there in the right place to commemorate his 700th appearance for the club. The resistance was broken and it was a matter of when rather than if United stretch the lead. The second goal came 10 minutes later when Hernandez, an apex predator deflected a Buttner shot into the net. Buttner turned from provider to scorer 5 later when his sheer determination and grit enabled him to bundle a shot in the net through the legs of the keeper. Buttner, who was having an excellent debut was visibly delighted at the goal. The old guards, Scholes and Giggs then came off to be replaced by Persie and Powell. Persie had a glorious chance to make it 4 only to be thwarted by the brilliant Boyce with a last ditch tackle. Powell, on the other hand did mark his United debut with a scorcher of a goal. He received the ball from Hernadez, wrong footed Caldwell and unleased a thunderous strike. Al Hasbi could only watch as the ball flew past him into the goal. Wigan had decent chances to score but never looked like getting anything from the game after United opened the scoring. Martinez will look for positives in the defeat while Ferguson will hope the goal fest continues against Galatasray and Liverpool in the coming week.