Match Observations: Belligerent Fulham stifle Manchester United
Fulham 2-2 Manchester Utd: Observations
This game certainly didn’t have the elements of a 6-0 romp. In truth, the scoreline was fair; yet Manchester United would feel they had the chances to win the tie. It was an untidy game on reflection, and as the game wore on it became a gritty, scrappy encounter which, much to Fulham’s credit because of their effective five-man midfield, had meant that United were stifled offensively.
It had been all United in the first half hour, and unsurprisingly, it was Paul Scholes dictating the play. He has been the subject of a lot of praise this week, and of course, he displayed just why everyone’s talking about him. His positioning was fantastic, his passing was unmatched and his vision was as good as ever. The reason why the Red Devils had dominated the first half was that they had the Fulham midfield in the pocket; with Scholes and Fletcher linking up effectively. Quite fittingly, Scholes had opened the scoring with a trademark finish, incidentally his 150th in a United shirt.
1. Bobby Charlton 249
2. Dennis Law 237
3. Jack Rowley 211
4. George Best 179
4= Dennis Violet 179
6. Joe Spence 168
7. Mark Hughes 163
8. Ryan Giggs 156
9. Ruud Van Nistelrooy 150
9= Scholes 150
Scholes makes the list of Manchester United’s all time top scorers, equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 150 goals.
But if Fulham’s midfield had underperformed in the first half, they certainly ‘performed’ in the second, and suddenly the impetus was on the home side for an equaliser. United were no longer creating freely, and did not pass the ball around with as much as conviction as they did in the first. They got their deserved goal, via Simon Davies, and Fulham grew stronger minute by minute.
Manchester United gradually got their act together and rallied for the winner and they earned their reward; with Rooney absent, it meant that Own Goal had another chance to stake him claim in the team, doing so in the 83rd minute. It came off Brede Hangeland, somewhat ironically, as he had played a fantastic game thus far. United then had a chance to make it 3-1, but Nani had missed a penalty.
The winger had been used as a scapegoat, if he had scored the spot-kick United would have surely won. Although, when he came on, he changed the complexion of the game and brought back the game into United’s favour, so his impact in that sense was crucial to the cause.
Hangeland made it 2-2 in the dying moments, somewhat fairly, redeeming himself for the earlier mishap. Whilst it was true United didn’t defend notably well, there was no individuals to pick out; it was more of a case of tightening up at the back. Don’t worry, we still have another 36 games to go. We’re at a premature stage, so who knows what may happen? There is definitely no reason for a knee-jerk reaction.
Ratings: Van der Sar 7, O’Shea 5, Vidic 6, Evans 5, Evra 6; Valencia 6, Fletcher 7, Scholes 8, Park 5; Berbatov 6, Chicharito 5. Subs: Nani 7, Giggs 6, Owen 6