Old Trafford roars again after 436 days but Fulham hold Man United

Cavani brings the house down before 10,000 supporters see their side concede late on

Manchester United and supporters celebrate Edinson Cavani’s opener at Old Trafford. Photograph: Paul Ellis/Getty/AFP

Manchester United and supporters celebrate Edinson Cavani’s opener at Old Trafford. Photograph: Paul Ellis/Getty/AFP

 

Manchester United 1 Fulham 1

Manchester United stumbled in their bid to seal second place and their fans returned to Old Trafford: the latter of these was the more pleasing headline for those of a red persuasion on a warm May evening that had 10,000 of the faithful witnessing Edinson Cavani in the flesh for the first time as those discontented with the Glazers ownership kept protests low-key.

Cavani was signed a month into a season that in this last week can finally invite home supporters of all Premier League clubs back to their adored arenas. The striker was United’s star turn, conjuring an opener that had a wonderful, playground feel as he lobbed Fulham’s goalkeeper, Alphonse Areola, from 40 yards out, while spearheading an XI that, after consecutive losses to Leicester and Liverpool, showed Ole Gunnar Solskjær in ruthless mode, the manager dropping Dean Henderson for David de Gea.

When the No 1’s name was read out a rousing cheer went up as it did when those of his teammates followed, though this was nothing compared to the explosion of sound that met Bruno Fernandes on leading the side into a stadium featuring a sea of fans displaying “Go Glazers Out” placards in the green and gold colours of Newton Heath, the team from which United descended.

Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani scores his side’s opener against Fulham. Photograph: Paul Ellis/PA
Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani scores his side’s opener against Fulham. Photograph: Paul Ellis/PA

Theirs was a controlled start in which an Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross that Paul Pogba headed over, was a precursor to Cavani’s barnstorming finish. This came straight from the United playbook of fast, slick moves. De Gea kicked towards Fernandes who may have flicked the ball on, Cavani peeled away from the centre circle, strode forward and spied Areola out of his goal, before arrowing over a delightful finish the visiting goalkeeper could only palm on and in. Cue total crowd delirium and a celebration by Cavani plus a mob of teammates by the Stretford End. VAR - as it must - took a look but the strike stood, thankfully, and here was exactly what United and the support had waited 14 long months for: a moment of sheer unadulterated joy that could be shared. The place was electrified.

Next, Scott McTominay turned the ball to Fernandes and his thunderbolt was steered away by Areola. Then Mason Greenwood skipped along the right, found Fernandes, and he fluffed his lines with a miscontrol. When Fulham broke via Fabio Carvalho, Fred intervened and Lee Mason awarded a corner - much to the chagrin of fans who informed him precisely how they felt. From the ensuing corner André-Frank Zambo Anguissa rose unmarked - a theme of United at set-pieces - to head at De Gea, who collected after a fumble. A further warning came when a Carvalho charge left Victor Lindelöf embarrassed for pace: United were fortunate the No 48 shot weakly at De Gea.

Yet after Luke Shaw’s 40-yard surge swept him through and he blasted over, Mason blew for half-time, and applause followed. There was a swagger about United that is not always present and which is reminiscent of those of Alex Ferguson’s that swept all before them. It continued after the interval, as the ball was tapped about nonchalantly, Fred fashioned flicks, Cavani tried a chipped pass, and Fernandes let fly a free kick that skimmed Areola’s right post.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer waves to supporters at Old Trafford. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/PA
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer waves to supporters at Old Trafford. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/PA

Chants of “Glazers Out” were still heard but, really, a festival feel was a dominant mood that nearly became ecstatic once more when Greenwood’s pivot-and-shot went close to making it 2-0. With United camped deep in the relegated Fulham’s territory only complacency might trouble them and so it proved.

Suddenly Bobby Decordova-Reid was breaking along the right and crossing with loose defending allowing Joe Bryan to head in the equaliser. Old Trafford fell silent at what was the 28th goal conceded here - the most in the division - and at the close United’s ambition to improve on last season’s third place moved on to the final day visit to Wolves. As this was the last home match the fans’s public shows of disgruntlement at the Glazers may now be paused until next season. - Guardian

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