Manchester United's home debutants helped overcome another less-than impressive defensive display to beat Fulham 3-2 at Old Trafford.
Damien Duff had given Fulham a shock early lead, but Robin van Persie scored a stunning equalizer before fellow-new signing Shinji Kagawa struck a second from close range and Rafael headed home to make it 3-1 before half time. All looked comfortable for United until a defensive blunder led to an own goal from Nemanja Vidic to give Fulham hope mid-way through the second half.
While United's weakened defense continued to look vulnerable, in spells United's attack overwhelmed the visitors. The manner of the linkup between Van Persie, Kagawa and Antonio Valencia in particular vindicated Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench.
After falling to defeat in their opening game of the season, there were more than a few anxious faces inside Old Trafford as Fulham scored less than three minutes into the contest.
Michael Carrick, again playing out of position in central defense, brought down Mladen Petric on the edge of the box on the left. United's defending was caught out once more as Bryan Ruiz simply laid the free-kick inside and duff escaped the attentions of Ashley Young to finish low inside the near post.
Looking to justify not only the large fee United paid for a 29-year-old but also his selection ahead of Rooney, Van Persie produced a perfect representation of his talents to endear himself to the Old Trafford faithful.
Just seven minutes after United fell behind, Evra struck an innocuous low cross toward Van Persie, who got to the ball just ahead of Hangeland before striking a sublime half volley into the far corner past the despairing dive of Schwarzer.
United were now dominating possession with Fulham happy to sit back with two banks of four and Ruiz making it an almost five-man midfield, to leave just Petric up front.
The home side started to build the pressure as Kagawa struck a tame effort from long range and then Ashley Young missed the target with a poor effort after a neat break led by Antonio Valencia and Kagawa.
Valencia was looking the danger man and almost gave United the lead with a fine effort from 25 yards that looked like it was destined for the top corner but just went past the angle.
In the 35th minute United took the lead. A United corner was headed out to the edge of the area, where Cleverley met it with a fierce low drive that Schwarzer was unable to hang onto and Kagawa was on hand, played marginally onside, to finish from close range.
United were now had a firm spring in their step and were creating chances at will.
Just moments later they came close to a third as Kagawa struck the foot of the post and after Young's effort was saved by Schwarzer, Rafael was correctly ruled offside as he tapped home the rebound. Rafael and Valencia down the right
But United's pressure would soon tell.
The third goal arrived courtesy of another United corner, this time the ball came all the way through to Young who, in contrast to his performance up to that point, coolly picked out Rafael at the far post to head home from close range.
Incredibly despite their now seeming total ascendency, Fulham came desperately close to reducing the deficit before the break.
First Petric's ambitious scissor kick was blocked bravely by Evra, before De Gea parried away Duff's low effort and then recovered to make a stunning stop with his legs to deflect Petric's shot onto the cross bar.
United continued to stay on the top after the break, albeit without the same level of threat that they displayed to end the first period. But United's defensive frailties would show up one more to gift Fulham a way back into the match.
Left-back Matthew Briggs lofted a rudimentary cross into the six-yard box and David de Gea failed to claim the ball over the head of Petric before it struck the heel of the unaware Vidic and trickled into the unguarded net.
Ferguson responded by bringing on both Rooney and Danny Welbeck to linkup with Van Persie in attack. But it was at the other end where the United boss will have been concerned.
Dembele unleashed a fierce drive from 25 yards that forced De Gea to tip over and from the resulting corner produced another save from the Spaniard from close range after some more hesitant defending.
Far from the free-flowing football of earlier, United ended the match doing little more than hanging on for their first three points of the campaign. There are certainly promising signs going forward, but Ferguson will know that he needs his absent defenders to get back as soon as possible.