Sunday, 22 August 2010
Fulham 2 -2 Manchester United
United started well. Very well in fact and completely dominated right unto Paul Scholes scoring one of those long range efforts from a corner situation. Encouragingly this spurred Fulham on and they slowly started to take control of the game. This probably ensued when Danny Murphy started getting a little bit closer to Scholes and started cutting off the creative supply. In fact once Scholes was watched a bit more closely, there was little true creativity from United and their two forwards were starved of supply, mainly because of the rather ordinary games the two wingers Valencia and Park were having.
Hughes' Fulham were very reminiscient of Hodgson's. Tidy and organised; they were a team through and through. Etuhu, who appears to be pushing further up the field these days, really should have scored after Van der Sar only palmed one of his shots straight back at him. However the Dutch keeper manager to tip the second shot over the bar, despite being sat on his backside at the time. So dominant were Fulham that it was a surprise when United came out with the same team in the second half. Inevitably Fulham continued thier first half pressure and got a deserved equaliser when Davies swept in a great move down the right.
Hughes provided us with our first look at Dembele. The Belgian showed willing and went on a couple of runs which suggested he could be a handful for opposition teams in the future. However it was a Man United substitute - Nani - which switched momentum and it was one of his many corners that came off the shin of Hangeland and into the back of the net for a barely deserved second.
Minutes later and Duff was penalised for handball - he miscontrolled a cross from the United right and the ball popped up onto his hand. It was a harsh penalty, but one of those that would be given 7 out of 10 times. Surprisingly Nani stepped forward to take the spot kick but it was even more of a surprise to see David Stockdale dive to his right and push the ball wide of the post. It was Stockdale's second great save of the match - his reactions to push a Berbatov volley over the bar in the first half were exemplary and will do no harm to Hughes' complicated goalkeeping options.
The save turned out to be pivotal. Fulham forced another corner and this time Hangeland rose high above everyone and powered a header past Van der Sar. In three seasons I only remember two other last minute goals from Fulham - hopefully it's a sign of things to come. With the game being so early in the season, the need for points isn't as pronounced, so I was able to enjoy the game - although I don't think I 'celebrated' any of the four goals. It was a cracking, rip roaring match though and bodes well for the future under Hughes. Not many teams will have the gumption to come back from behind twice against United this season. At least I hope not.
Highlights - here.