Manchester United 2 Fulham 1

FA Cup Quarter-Final, Old Trafford
6th March 2004

Manchester United booked their place in the Semis of the oldest cup in the world with a well-deserved win against Fulham. In a repeat of the game in the Premiership a week ago, United were keen to ensure they beat Fulham, having been held to a 1 1 draw by the Londoners.

A fast and flourishing start ensured that the crowd got right behind the Reds from the off. Van Nistelrooy spurned two early chances having the ball taken from his feet by Zat Knight on the first, and then firing over from close range after a Ronaldo cross.

Ronaldo was in fine from, jinking and bouncing down the touch-line. He has surely secured himself as the Right-winger for the many years to come at Manchester, having the skills and vision to pip Fletcher to the role.

Despite the United pressure, it was Fulham who scored first. A long-ball pass by Fulham was being shepherded out of play by Roy Keane, the make-shift centre-back, when he got tackled on the touchline by McBride. The American played the ball into Boa Morte who was upended by a sliding Wes Brown. The ball went underneath Brown, and had he managed to touch it, it surely would not have been a penalty. As it was, Malbranque was able to fire home from the spot with Howard trying his best but diving the wrong way.

Two minutes later United managed to equalise. They had deserved to be in the lead if any team had, and were motivated to run forwards at the Fulham defence. The extra impetus and pressure gave United another chance. The ball was played across the box by Giggs, who had cleverly taken the ball round his opponent, and Van Nistelrooy finished in typically emphatic fashion from 5 yards.

United kept the pressure on, and almost scored when a Ronaldo free-kick was fired towards the back-post. Keane's diving header didn't get him close enough to the ball, but did do enough to get in the way of Van Nistelrooy, who missed the ball by inches.

Half-time brought no changes to the pattern of play. United were still attacking, and their attacking play almost paid off on a Ronaldo free-kick, with the Portuguese youngster hitting the bar.

Five minutes later though, and the youngster's cross allowed Van Nistelrooy to poke home with a side-footed shot from 5 yards.

Fulham, to their credit, carried on battling, but were no match for the Reds who seemed to have won back their swagger, and just in time with the European game coming up on Tuesday.

Keane was substituted to give Djemba-Djemba a run out for ten minutes, and the Cameroonian looked impressive to say the least. Giggs was also tried out at Left-back as Fergie looks towards stabilising his defence for the big game!

Ronaldo exited to a standing ovation, probably not for the last time at Old Trafford.

Man Utd: Howard, Phil Neville, Brown, Keane (Djemba-Djemba 75), O'Shea, Fletcher, Butt, Scholes, Ronaldo (Solskjaer 88), van Nistelrooy, Giggs.

Subs not used: Kleberson, Forlan, Carroll.

Booked: Keane, Phil Neville.

Fulham: Van der Sar, Volz, Knight, Goma, Green, Malbranque, Sean Davis, Legwinski (Pembridge 64), Clark (Petta 81), Boa Morte, McBride (Hayles 63).

Subs not used: Crossley, Djetou.

Booked: Volz, Boa Morte, Goma, Hayles.

Attendance: 67,614.

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).