Paul Pogba’s stunning goal consigned Fulham to another defeat, despite another promising performance at a blustery Craven Cottage.
The Whites are now without a win in eight Premier League games, though they started brightly and were ahead within six minutes through Ademola Lookman’s third goal of the season.
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa picked out his run in behind United’s offside trap, and Lookman steadied himself to slot past David De Gea into the far corner.
But the visitors, who return to the top of the table with their win, secured more of a foothold in the game and found an equaliser after 20 minutes.
Bruno Fernandes first struck the post from the edge of the box, before collecting the ball and firing in a cross that Alphonse Areola spilled, enabling Edinson Cavani to pounce from close range.
Fernandes went close moments later, drawing a diving save from Areola, and Anthony Martial misdirected a couple of headers off target as United relied heavily on multiple crosses from both flanks.
Momentum shifted back to the home side after the restart, with Harrison Reed blazing over from range and Lookman shooting straight at De Gea from a pull-back from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was restored to the starting line-up.
Fulham pushed on, knowing that a win would have sent them within a point of safety, but were undone by a cracking left-footed strike from Pogba that swerved inside the post midway through the second half.
Cavani almost added another, though Areola got down to stop his header smartly.
The sub-par Ivan Cavaleiro was then replaced by Aboubakar Kamara, who made an instant impact by playing in Loftus-Cheek, but the Chelsea loanee couldn’t find a way past De Gea with his low drive.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, back from a hamstring problem, was also thrown on for the last 10 minutes as the Whites piled on the pressure, with his deflected header going inches wide in added time.
Fulham: Areola, Tete, Aina (Mitrovic 83), Andersen, Adarabioyo, Bryan, Reed, Anguissa (Lemina 79), Cavaleiro (Kamara 71), Loftus-Cheek, Lookman.