The first home game of the season was a pretty amazing affair. Fulham gave the visitors too much time and space at the beginning, and Scholes was able to use a little back-pass to put the ball into the goal after about 10 minutes. Fulham came back into it during the first half, with the best chance falling to Etuhu when he raced into the box to force van der Sar into two reaction saves.
The second half saw the best action, however, and the first Fulham equaliser was a thing of beauty. You could feel something was coming when Duff sipped the ball around Evra on the sideline and fed it forward to Zamora. Bobby took the ball to the byeline and tapped it back towards the penalty spot where Simon Davies was waiting.
Fulham could have had a penalty later on, when Dembele, the new signing from Belgium who’d replaced Dempsey on the hour mark, was pulled over by his shirt by Vidic. But the officials didn’t see it, somehow. Man Utd started to put more pressure on as the game continued, bringing Nani, Giggs and Owen on to strengthen the attack. It was after a period of sustained attacks and several corners that the Reds got their reward, with Hangeland unlucky to deflect a corner in with his legs, and little time left in the game.
Shortly afterwards, the visitors were handed a chance to extend their lead when Duff was judged to have deliberately handled the ball in the area (given it was a result of a mishit off his knee, it looked to be a pure accident). But Nani’s penalty was saved by Stockdale, who had yet another superb game.
At the end, though, Hangeland was able to undo his own-goal, with a header from a corner just as the clock was reaching 90 minutes. In the four minutes of added time, Fulham were certainly keen to try and take all three points.
There were many positive for Fulham to take from this game. Firstly, with all the questions about Schwarzer leaving, Stockdale has been able to demonstrate his ability, and under incredible pressure. The defence did very well, and contained United for most of the game. Zamora was on great form as ever, and was creating trouble for the Man U defence all over. Dempsey did not have his best game, his passing was pretty wayward, but Dembele looked like a really good signing, linking up with Bobby and making deep runs forward.
The game could easily have ended 3-1 to Man Utd, or with a Fulham win. A draw was a fair result, if the refereeing did seem to favour the visitors a little.
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