Manchester United 2 Fulham 1
Manchester United have closed our 2022/23 Premier League campaign with a 2-1 win over Fulham at home.
Erik ten Hag's men had all the work to do when Kenny Tete headed the visitors in front inside the opening 20 minutes, and David De Gea saved a Aleksandar Mitrovic penalty, before a goal from Jadon Sancho, ahead of the break, sent us in at half-time on level terms.
Fred and Bruno Fernandes combined to create a real moment of magic in the second period for our second, and subsequent winner, when the Brazilian's reverse pass was finished calmly by our Portuguese magnifico.
Newcastle United drew at Chelsea but third place was, of course, already secured by our victory.
With a chance to end the Premier League season in third, the Reds came out flying in front of a buoyant Old Trafford, and forced Bernd Leno to palm away Diogo Dalot’s ball into the box, after being found by a sublime pass from fellow countryman Bruno Fernandes.
Fulham very quickly found their feet and their talisman Mitrovic had a golden opportunity to establish an early lead, but the Serbian could only guide his header over De Gea’s bar. Moments later, Marcus Rashford saw his powerful free-kick parried away by Leno.
With 19 minutes on the clock, United suffered a blow in their pursuit of third when Tete headed the visitors ahead from Willian’s corner, nodding in unchecked at the near post. After Casemiro was adjudged to have fouled Sam Cairney just inside the area, the London club were handed a glorious chance to double their tally from the spot. Mitrovic stepped up but had his penalty saved by the imperious De Gea between the sticks, diving to his left to pull off a great stop.
Just before half-time, though, Ten Hag’s men found a way back into the game courtesy of Sancho. Biding our time around the area, Fred picked up the ball and went on a bulldozing run into the box and, with the help of some good fortune, bundled the ball into the path of our no.25, who was able to cushion the ball home despite the last-gasp attempts of Leno to make yet another save.
With the bit between our teeth after scoring just before the break, United came out for the second half looking to make an instant impact. Casemiro’s searching ball over the top bounced kindly for Rashford, but our no.10’s half-volley bounced just wide of the mark.
The Old Trafford faithful, in full voice as always, wouldn’t have to wait much longer for the Reds to get our noses in front – and it would come from a moment of real magic from Fred. The Brazilian spotted the run of team-mate Fernandes and executed a wonderful reverse ball, finding the Portuguese in behind the Fulham backline. Fernandes kept is composure to slot calmly beyond Leno.
Despite United looking largely in control, Fulham carved out some opportunities to get back on level terms, both of which fell to Cairney. The visiting captain was robbed of a clear effort on goal by a last-minute interception from Scott McTominay.
Second-half substitute Wout Weghorst had an excellent chance to ensure the win inside stoppage time after Facundo Pellistri got the Reds’s counter-attack under way. Sancho was on hand to guide the ball into the path of the Dutchman, but his effort could only bounce wide of the goal.
With that, United drew the curtains on our 2022/23 campaign, with attention now turning to next Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup final against local rivals City.
United: De Gea; Dalot, Maguire, Lindelof, Malacia; Casemiro (McTominay 67), Fred (Eriksen 67); Sancho, Fernandes (Pellistri 84), Garnacho (Martial 67); Rashford (Weghorst 77).
Unused substitutes: Butland, Shaw, Varane, Wan-Bissaka.
Goals: Sancho 39; Fernandes 55.
Bookings: McTominay 87.
Fulham: Leno; Tete, Tosin, Diop, Robinson; Palhinha, Lukic (Reed 66); Wilson (Solomon 66), Cairney (James 80), Willian; Mitrovic (Vinicius 80).
Unused substitutes: Rodak, Soares, Harris, Kebano, Decordova-Reid.
Goals: Tete 19
Bookings: Palinha 51, Mitrovic 79.