Alex Ferguson’s brave decision to drop Wayne Rooney from his starting line-up paid off as new boys Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa scored in Manchester United’s come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Fulham.
Bryan Ruiz rolled a free-kick into Damien Duff’s path which the Dubliner turned home in the third minute to give Fulham a lead.
Coming so soon after that loss at Everton, it was a major test of character for United which they came through with flying colours.
Van Persie levelled with the clinical efficiency you would expect of a Golden Boot winner.
Meeting Patrice Evra’s left-wing cross perfectly, the Dutchman flashed a shot wide of Mark Schwarzer before turning to receive the acclaim of his team-mates.
From that point on it was a case of when, rather than if, the hosts would gain the initiative.
As Shinji Kagawa prompted and cajoled, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia both went close.
But when Van Persie’s corner was half-cleared to Tom Cleverley, Schwarzer could only turn the midfielder’s shot into the path of Kagawa, who – profiting from Sascha Riether’s failure to get out of the six-yard box quickly – swept home from close range.
Restored to the starting line-up following his Olympic campaign with Brazil, Rafael provided additional defensive security.
He also had a goal correctly ruled out for offside before nodding home Young’s chip to the far post just before the break.
Yet, for all United’s attacking endeavours, there remain serious flaws at the back amid a massive injury list.
Once again pressed into service as an emergency centre-half, Michael Carrick came far too close to turning the ball into his own net for comfort.
And when United conceded a second, it was almost laughable as David de Gea came to punch Matthew Briggs’ cross, got nowhere near it and the ball eventually bounced off Vidic and rolled in.
De Gea redeemed himself with two brilliant saves to deny the excellent Mousa Dembele as Rooney was introduced for Kagawa.
And then, on Fulham’s last attack, De Gea denied Ruiz, who had been set up by Dembele.