According to the BBC Sport website, Brede Hangeland’s late equaliser yesterday spoiled Manchester United’s “100% start to the season”. Yep, Fulham managed to quash the unstoppable force that had won every last one of their one league game(s) prior to yesterday’s clash at Craven Cottage.
Admittedly, they were missing Wayne Rooney, who had played in 100% of United’s previous league games this season, and started with Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernández up front.
It started off so well for United. They generally controlled the game for most of the first half, troubling stand-in goalkeeper David Stockdale on a few occasions. Berbatov tested him early on, acrobatically volleying a miscued Hernández shot that Stockdale palmed away. United were ahead, however, following the resulting corner.
Antonio Valencia rolled the ball into the box, Berbatov laid it off for the evergreen Paul Scholes, who hammered a low, swerving shot from (apparently) 27.5 yards. It was a fantastic strike, and one that is bound to spark a series of patronising comments about how he’s “rolling back the years” from our nation’s lovable football personalities.
United were playing some good football, but gradually allowed Fulham into the game. Their best chance came when Dempsey laid the ball on for Dickson Etuhu, whose shot was saved by van der Sar, only to see his follow-up tipped over by the Dutch keeper.
Fulham drew level on 57 minutes when Simon Davies, scorer of Fulham’s Europa League final goal in May, turned in Bobby Zamora’s cross. Duff skinned (embarrassed, really) Patrice Evra on the right, before playing in Zamora, whose cut-back was coolly converted by Davies. Fulham were right back in the game, and should’ve had a penalty when Vidic, in one of his rare off-days, pulled at debutant Moussa Dembélé’s shirt in the area, though nothing was given.
A stroke of luck gave United the lead, and what looked like the winner, when Hangeland inadvertently turned in a Nani corner. United should have put the game to bed when Duff sliced a clearance onto his own arm, leading Peter Walton to (perhaps harshly) point to the spot. Nani, of all people, stepped up and had his penalty saved by the excellent Stockdale. United were punished for it, when Hangeland beat Berbatov and Vidic to a corner, his powerful header proving too much for van der Sar.
David Stockdale 8 Made some good saves, including Nani’s penalty
John Pantsil 7 Solid game
Paul Konchesky 7 Good game, got forward well
Brede Hangeland 8 A rock, deserved his goal
Aaron Hughes 7 Solid, seems to work well with Hangeland
Damien Duff 8 Crucial in both goals
Simon Davies 7 Took his goal well
Dickson Etuhu 6 Should’ve scored in the first half
Danny Murphy 7 Might have liked to have been more involved
Clint Dempsey 6 Quiet, didn’t link well with midfield
Bobby Zamora 7 Bustled up front, good assist for first goal
Moussa Dembélé 7 Decent start, deserved to win a penalty
Jonathan Greening 6 Did a job in the last 10
Zoltan Gera 6 Stoppage time sub
Edwin van der Sar 6 Got a hand to both goals, perhaps should’ve done better
John O’Shea 6 Poor going forward
Patrice Evra 6 At fault for Davies’ goal, didn’t get forward enough
Nemanja Vidic 6 Poor game
Jonny Evans 7 Comfortable enough, might’ve done better with first goal
Antonio Valencia 6 Quiet, as he was last Monday
Park Ji-Sung 5 Anonymous, offered little threat
Darren Fletcher 7 Solid game, good passing
Paul Scholes 8 Excellent, again. Great passing, great goal.
Dimitar Berbatov 6 Poor after a decent start.
Javier Hernández 5 Disappointing, looked lightweight
Nani 7 Much more of a threat than Park
Ryan Giggs 6 Didn’t really change the game
Michael Owen 6 Minimal impact
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