Fulham 2-2 Man Utd

Thrills and spills and bellyaches at Craven Cottage this afternoon as Brede Hangeland moved to the top of my own private “Great People” list and David Stockdale made an unforgettable penalty save that he’ll still be talking about when he’s an old man.

We were 2-1 down when referee Peter Walton (who had a strange game) awarded United a penalty based on some kind of infraction from Damien Duff.  It looked perhaps as if Duff had handled after mis-kicking a clearance (in which case, could he have avoided the ball?).   Nani stepped up confidently and struck his kick well, but Stockdale flew to his left like a bright yellow superman and pushed the ball away.   It felt like a heart-warming irrelevance given the scoreline, but in the end proved pivotal.

Stockdale had a good game.  The afternoon’s first highlight came when a spectacular bicycle kick from Berbatov was brilliantly parried away, and while he was then beaten by a 25 yard Scholes daisycutter, it didn’t feel like a shot Schwarzer would’ve got to either.   His handling was impressive again, his kicking hefty, and I maintain that he looks more like Peter Schmeichel than any other goalkeeper in recent memory.   We are warned not to get carried away with these things, but it’s nice to see young players do well.   Let’s hope he gets a chance to prove himself.

Fulham almost equalised in the first half when Dempsey expertly freed Etuhu (in the box a lot again today; good man) and van der Sar was forced into two fine saves, one from a seated position.  Do you get many chances like that against Manchester United?   But happily enough we got the equaliser we deserved in the second half.  Damien Duff squirreled his way through the defence, Zamora pulled it back into the path of Simon Davies, whose shot was good enough to just about beat van der Sar.  Great work, Duff, great run, Davies.

On the hour Moussa Dembele then replaced Clint Dempsey, a nice chance to see our newest signing.  Dempsey shuffled off like a nine year old who’d had his football stickers confiscated by the teacher.  Dembele, though, justified the move with some nice work in confined spaces, a good appreciation of teammates’ runs, and a couple of surprising passes that on another day have led to goalscoring chances.   Harsh on Dempsey, who had played well, but Dembele looks a shrewd signing.

So far so good then, but United went ahead again with a confusing goal from a corner.  Personally I was looking at a wasp hovering a few inches from my nose when the ball went in, but nobody around me seemed to know what had happened either.   The news later suggested a Hangeland own goal, which made his late equaliser even sweeter.

We might have had a couple of good penalty shouts in the run-up to the goal, but in the end none of this mattered, as with three minutes left Duff’s high corner met Hangeland’s high jump, and a convincing header beat van der Sar low to his left.  The Cottage erupted.

9 thoughts on “Fulham 2-2 Man Utd

  1. What a great match! We definitely fought our way back into this match and deserved at least a point, if not more.

    Wasn’t sure whether Dembele was a real improvement over Dempsey, but considering it was his first match in the Prem, he certainly held his own (and had a decent shout for a penalty when Vidic grabbed his shirt in the box). I knew that he had pace, but I was surprised at his size, he’s a pretty big dude.

    It was interesting to note that we really hit our stride when Duff and Davies swapped sides with Davies being a constant menace on the left. It wasn’t that long ago when he looked out of place on the left.

    Aside from Paintsil who was a bit below par, I thought that our backline was excellent. Hangeland had an especially strong match and it was good to see him redeem himself after that cruel OG.

  2. Had to watch it on the box today due to family engagements (my wife being on a hen weekend…me in charge of three young offspring) but the second half was a corker. The Duff handball was exceptionally harsh and Dembele was definitely pulled back by Vidic. When Ferguson says afterwards that we deserved the point you know he believes he was lucky to leave London with anything. I feel good times could be ahead…

  3. Lots to feel positive about after that. I couldn’t see us getting anything out of today after two incredible performances in the last two seasons so this was special.

    Zamora had a cracking game but anyone know why he was gesticulating wildly after our second equaliser. Initially I thought it was to get our sub on but then he continued for a while and Peter walton had to tell him to get the right side of the line before kick off.

  4. Fantastic game. Some points that I took away from it:

    (1) Hughes is a ballsy manager. We equalize and he immediately brings on a pacey attacker in place of a slower creator-type. Seems to me he figured United would press up further now and he was going for the win on the counter-attack, even if it left us lighter in midfield. Nice!

    (2) Etuhu has clearly been told to make runs when he sees them. Cannot imagine Hodgson would’ve been happy with his attacking intent. But it really seems to add another dimension.

    (3) Our wingers look better on their opposite flanks. It’s probably partly our narrow pitch, partly their declining pace, and partly tactical. But whatever the reason, they and the team just look better than way. I’m pleased that Hughes is showing the flexibility to switch it up when it’s not working.

    (4) Zamora looks like an international footballer now. The ball sticks to him, he makes clever runs, and he’s an absolute bully.

    (5) Scholes is class. How can we have such a great footballer in this country and never once try to build a team around him. He was always played left in a flat midfield four. Ridiculous.

  5. The penalty claim we had before Hangeland’s goal (the one he scored at the correct end, that is) was correctly denied; originally looked like the ball might’ve come off O’Shea’s hand but replay showed that it was off his upper thigh.

    Agree with Rob about both the Duff handball (what a hot and cold match he had, conceding a penalty and looking out of it for much of the first half, but then doing much of the hard work to set up both of our goals), and also about Vidic grabbing a handful of Dembele’s shirt.

    Speaking of Vidic, late in the first half, when he went down apparently injured? Complete dive. TV replay showed Dempsey’s elbow a good foot away from Vidic. You could even see him grinning as he went down. He’s dropped a few notches in my estimation after today.

  6. Agree with most of rjbiii’s points. Fantastic game and very pleasing to see Hughes making attack-minded subsitutions at 1-1, we could have easily ended up with a manager who would have tried to sit on the draw. Not sure if Clint had a good game (apart from that flick for Etuhu’s chance) so I thought taking him off was a good move. Hope to see more of Dembele soon, looks to be creative/unselfish player and laid a great ball off to Davies in the last 10 mins….

  7. Loved Etuhu’s game today. Not necessarily for attacking presence, but the fact that he was always able to get back to defend. Box to box? Oh yes. I hope this experiment continues.

  8. New man looks classy and wants to play this evening. Elm to give BZ a rest?
    Mr Adams and the Horse will be warmly welcomed as we remember 96/97

    Then it is pack the bags and make early start for Blackpool. Mrs Pensioner’s birthday treat.

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