Talking Points: United 1 Fulham 1
Manchester United welcomed fans back to Old Traffiord for the first time in 14 months but disappointingly couldn't deliver a victory, as relegated Fulham went back to London with a point after a 1-1 draw.
As the curtain came down on our 2020/21 home Premier League campaign it wasn't the winning ending Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have been hoping for.
However, there was a sensational moment for the returning 10,000 supporters to celebrate when Edinson Cavani scored a stunning long-range goal to open the scoring in the 15th minute at the Stretford End.
It was his first United goal in front of the fans and how they loved it.
Sadly, Scott Parker's side, who will be in the Championship next term, ensured the Reds missed out on a three-point climax at home when Joe Bryan headed in a 75th-minute equaliser.
But there were plenty of talking points on a historical day at the Theatre of Dreams.
FANS BACK AT OLD TRAFFORD
From the first trickle of fans coming in when Old Trafford finally opened its turnstiles again to the final whistle, it was a special occasion at the stadium.
For the first time in 436 days the Theatre of Dreams was a raucous place again. It may have only been 10,000 in a cavernous 75,000-capacity arena, but those lucky enough to be present made enough noise for the absent fans as football began to get back to some form of normality.
Instead of hearing the shouts from the benches and dugouts, on-the-field instructions and all that behind-closed-doors noise we’ve had to get used to since March 8 2020, it was the well-known, familiar songs, ooh and aahs that echoed around the ground.
It was great to hear and a signal that good times are back again.
A DISAPPOINTING HOME FINALE
“We want to go into next Wednesday’s Europa League final full of confidence and momentum and a strong performance tonight can be a big step towards that,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in United Review.
He got that to a certain extent, as his side adjusted to the return of fans and put in a high-tempo display, albeit against already-relegated Fulham.
The ease of the equaliser from Fulham's Joe Bryan after 75 minutes, though, will be a concern for Ole and his staff ahead of the Europa League final next week.
However, before the last league match of the season on Sunday, this was a relatively decent way to end the Old Trafford programme after tasting successive defeats last week here against Leicester City and Liverpool. A win would have been preferable, but at least it ended that losing sequence and put some confidence back in the bank.
CAVANI CEMENTS LOVE AFFAIR
Only via social media has Edinson Cavani been able to gauge how much United fans have loved him this season. Now he knows what it’s really like to be adored by an Old Trafford crowd.
Any goal would have been welcome on the fans’ return to the stadium but Cavani’s breathtaking long-range chipped opener couldn’t have been better scripted.
Bruno Fernandes had already been presented with the Goal of the Season award for his fantastic effort at Old Trafford against Everton in February. Had the supporters been voting now our Portuguese midfielder might have missed out!
There’s been a long time sandwiched between Cavani’s super hit and Scott McTominay’s long-range beauty against City in March 2020 that lifted the roof off the stadium but both, in front of the Stretford End, were worthy of any occasion.
It's just a shame our Uruguayan hitman's goal wasn't a winner.
OLE CHOSE A STRONG SIDE
The manager had to rotate and freshen up last week at Old Trafford for the two Premier League home matches in 48 hours against Leicester City and Liverpool due to our punishing schedule. But he went very strong for the home finale against Fulham.
Arguably, only the injured captain Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford and Dean Henderson (the latter two were on the bench) were not in the starting XI from his normal recent Premier League regulars. A pointer ahead of the Europa League final clash with Villarreal perhaps?
GDANSK GETS CLOSER
United didn’t give off the air of a team with one eye on a potential trophy-winning finale next week in Poland. Maybe the players were weighing up proving to the boss that they should be selected for the XI against Villarreal against getting injured, but the former won out until Fulham's late revival took a bit of the steam out of our legs.
Maybe playing a side in all yellow, like Villarreal's first-choice kit, helped in giving United's team a reminder of what lies ahead in Poland next week.
All those on show can feel they made a decent statement with Gdansk in mind, except that moment when Fulham stole a point.
Captain Harry Maguire was in deep conversation with goalkeeper Dean Henderson in the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand seats following the leveller and United's fans will no doubt hope the skipper will be able to discard his crutches before the plane flies off to Gdansk.
TROPHY WINNERS HONOURED
The normal end of season player’s awards ceremony isn’t taking place again this season obviously. But United fans got the chance to congratulate the standout Reds from this campaign when the Players' Player of the Year Luke Shaw and Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year Bruno Fernandes were presented with their individual silverware prior to the match.
Bruno also won Goal of the Season for his strike against Everton in February.
Well done to both.
There's just one domestic fixture of the campaign to go: the Reds travel to the Midlands on Sunday’s final day of this bizarre 2020/21 season. United will face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on May 23 (kick-off 16:00 BST).