Manchester United 1 Fulham 1
Manchester United and Fulham drew in the Premier League on Tuesday evening as fans returned to Old Trafford for our final home match of the season.
In front of 10,000 supporters, in the first match to feature a crowd at the Theatre of Dreams for 14 months, the Reds and Cottagers shared the points.
When he extended his United contract until the end of the 2020/21 season, Edinson Cavani said he wanted to experience what it was like to play in front of the faithful and he gave them a moment to savour with an unbelievable goal at the Stretford End. El Matador produced a moment of magic to send the Reds ahead, as his 40-yard lob in the 15th minute made sure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side led 1-0 at half-time.
After the break, Joe Bryan earned a point for the visitors with his 76th-minute headed equaliser. United produced chances throughout the game and were unlucky to only score once in front of our supporters. Following Fulham's equaliser, we chased a winner towards the end but it wasn't to be in our final home match of the season.
Pegged back gallery
See the best photos as fans returned to Old Trafford and witnessed United's 1-1 draw with Fulham.
The Reds, unsurprisingly, took control of the game early on and dominated possession. It was evident our players wanted to showcase their class in front of the United faithful as Ole’s men came out pressing high, causing the Cottagers all sorts of problems when they tried to build from the back.
Paul Pogba had the first attempt of the game in the fifth minute when he rose highest to meet an Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross from the right but the Frenchman’s header went over the bar.
Ole’s men continued to press Fulham backwards and in the 14th minute, Cavani screamed for a penalty as he was pulled back in the box but Lee Mason, in his last appearance as a Premier League referee, did not agree with the Uruguayan.
However, only a minute later, United went ahead after our no. 7 produced a moment of brilliance which we will watch over and over again for years to come. Following a precise pass by David De Gea from the back, and a clever back-heeled assist by Bruno Fernandes, Cavani was clean through with only the goalkeeper to beat. And oh, how he beat him! The South American saw Alphonse Areola off his line and scored a sumptuous goal with a first-time lob from 40 yards to send the fans wild. A moment of raw emotion at the Theatre of Dreams.
After Edi’s 16th goal of the season and Bruno’s 18th assist, United continued to pile pressure on Scott Parker’s team. First, a Mason Greenwood header went over the bar before Fernandes, who had just received a booking for spoiling a Fulham attack, tested Areola from range in the 25th minute. The French keeper was equal to the Portuguese Magnifico’s powerful effort from the edge of the box.
Around the half-hour mark, Fred put in a strong challenge inside the Reds’ box to deny Fabio Carvalho at the end of a well-worked Fulham attack. Seven minutes later, the visitors’ rapid 18-year-old got away from Victor Lindelof but De Gea got down quickly to stop his shot from inside our box.
As the half came towards its conclusion, Fernandes tested Areola with a driven strike from 25 yards following a corner but again the goalkeeper saved for the Cottagers. Luke Shaw, who was awarded the Players’ Player of the Year award ahead of kick-off, had the final shot before the interval but his effort went high and wide.
SECOND HALF - FULHAM EQUALISE
Five minutes after the interval, Scott McTominay earned a free-kick at the edge of the Fulham area following a determined run towards goal. Bruno stepped up to take the free-kick and wrong-footed Areola with a strike towards his side of the goal but the effort went inches wide of the top corner to our no. 18’s frustration.
On the hour-mark, De Gea showcased his world-class ability with a superb double save. First he got a hand to Ademola Lookman’s attempt towards the Spaniard’s near post before our no.1 saved Carvalho’s header from the rebound inside the six-yard area.
Marcus Rashford replaced McTominay on the hour-mark and our no. 10 introduced himself in style. Following an elastico dribble, the Academy graduate won a free-kick to the side of the visitors’ box. Bruno aimed for the top corner with the free-kick but Areola got two hands on it and nothing came from the loose ball in the box.
The 26-year-old playmaker then whipped a brilliant cross in but Greenwood could not get a touch to it. The 19-year got closer to doubling our lead a few minutes later. Pogba found Cavani in the middle of the pitch and El Matador sent our no.11 in behind with an elegant first-time pass. Unfortunately, Greenwood was not able to fire past the Fulham shot-stopper from inside the box.
With only a goal in it, there was always a chance for Fulham to bounce back and with 15 minutes to go, Bryan equalised for the West London outfit. Bobby Decordova-Reid put in a precise cross from the right and Bryan, in front of the Stretford End, headed in at the far post to make it 1-1. It was a tight offside call but after a VAR check, the goal was given.
The Reds piled the pressure on and Ole looked to the bench for some new options. Amad replaced Greenwood in the 83rd minute before Donny van de Beek came on for goalscorer Cavani in the 87th minute and the Uruguayan got a standing ovation from the admiring supporters as he came off.
United were unable to find a late winner and it ended up being a frustrating outcome to a game which had started so well for the Reds.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Shaw; Fred, McTominay (Rashford 62); Greenwood (Amad 83), Fernandes (c), Pogba; Cavani (van de Beek 87).
Subs not used: Henderson, Bailly, Alex Telles, Williams, Mata, Matic.
Goal: Cavani 15.
Bookings: Fernandes, Shaw.
Fulham: Areola; Ream (c), Anguissa, Adarabioyo; Carvalho (Loftus-Cheek 63), Reed (Andersen 32), Lemina, Bryan; Decordova-Reid, Cavaleiro, Lookman (Tete 89).
Subs not used: Rodak, Hector, Odoi, Onomah, Maja, Aina.
Goal: Bryan 76.
Bookings: Lemina, Lookman, Areola, Andersen.
Referee: Lee Mason.