Manchester United gained a point at Craven Cottage on a day when Fulham threatened yet another win on home soil. While United controlled the first half, the home side overran Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in a pulsating second period, with the Reds grateful for a Paul Scholes’ wonderstrike and yet another own goal to share the spoils.
With his glass half full – United had lost on the previous two visits to Fulham’s picturesque West London ground – Ferguson was magnanimous, declaring that Mark Hughes’ side fully earned its draw. Indeed, while Nani missed a late second half penalty that would surely have sealed a United victory the home side merited a point in the weekend’s most vibrant Premier League encounter.
“In fairness, I think they deserved a point because they played very well in the second half,” Ferguson told Sky Sports.
“The first half belonged to us. Their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves, which could have put us in a comfortable position.
“But in the second half they upped their game and played better than us, you’ve got to give credit to them, they deserved their point.”
Not that United settled for a draw on a rare occasion that Ferguson chose to deploy two strikers away from home. This is especially true at Fulham, which now fully deserves its elevation to the upper echelons of the Premier League. With Wayne Rooney sidelined by a stomach bug, Ferguson selected Javier Hernández for his first United start alongside Dimitar Berbatov in United’s attack.
The risk, of course, in deploying two central midfielders is that United – with Scholes in fine form but a slave to his 36-year-old legs – suffers when the opposition is able to increase the tempo, with or without the ball. Hughes, unlucky to lose his job at Manchester City last season, has built a reputation based on workaholic teams. On the second half’s evidence, his Fulham side is no different.
The late flurry of action that brought United a second half lead through Brede Hangeland’s 84th minute own goal, Nani’s missed penalty moments later and then the Norwegian defender’s towering last-gasp header for the equaliser followed a high quality game in which United’s defence looked anything but secure.
Indeed, Fulham’s greater adventure in the second half built on the increasingly peripheral Scholes and Darren Fletcher in the centre of United’s midfield, whom were frequently outnumbered as the home side increased its tempo.
It’s the risk that United runs as the season progresses with Scholes unable to compete at both the weekend and midweek once the Champions League begins next month.
Yet Ferguson’s side had dominated the opening 45 as Scholes played with the same time and space that Newcastle United had afforded the player Zinedine Zidane describes as the complete midfielder. That the ginger prince blasted home United’s opening goal on 11 minutes surprised few.
United failed to put Fulham to the sword though, creating and failing to take a score of chances before the break, with Berbatov guilty of failing to stamp his authority on the match and Hernández shooting wastefully high when presented with his first clear opportunity of the match.
With United’s dominance survived, Fulham’s equaliser on 57 minutes was rich reward the enterprising football the home side brought to the game, precipitating a strong last 30 minutes for the home side.
Still, with Jonny Evans clearly wrong side for Fulham’s first equaliser, and Nani failing to convert the late penalty it is the devil in the detail that Ferguson may come to regret from United’s first dropped points of the season.
“When you get the chance to seal the game with that penalty you should be taking it,” Ferguson told MUTV.
“It was a missed opportunity and it galvanised them, got the crowd up and they scored the equaliser.”
“When we got that second goal I thought ‘we’ve escaped here’ but to miss a penalty kick to make it 3-1, you’re throwing two points away there I’m afraid.”
In that Nani was culpable but the real concerns lie elsewhere in Ferguson’s side.
20 thoughts on “Nani rues missed opportunity as Reds ride fortune to secure Fulham draw”
Rather than put out his best side and introduce subs when the points are in hand, Sir Alex is making a habit of putting out sides he judges to be just good enough to win. Imagine the relief Fulham’s right back must have felt when seeing that it was Park Ji-Sung and not Nani he would be facing. When opposing players see the weakened lineup opposite them, they begin to believe in the possibility of getting a result from the match. If the opposing team scores, or enjoys any lengthy spells of possession, that belief only gets stronger, as does their determination to go for it. Fulham’s success in earning a point today will give heart to the next side United face; contrast that to the pissing their pants feeling the next side to face Cheatski will have.
Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.
We will just have to improve our execution in attack. We all know how merciless Chelsea are and now it seems Arsenal are developing the same ruthlessness.
Lets not get carried away. Does this mean that Newcastle are also getting merciless withtheir 6-0 win over villa?. We are going to drop points this season as are Chelsea, Arsenal etc. There is no shame in not thumpng a good Fulham side. If memory serves, Chelsea didn’t have it all there way at the cottage last season either. Chelsea have picked up 6 points they fully expected to. We wouldn’t have been banking on 3 points today. Chelsea have some harder fixtures coming up too remember. Way to early to me ringing any alarm bells.
By the way, this weekend must be some sort of record for penalties saved and amount of 6-0 wins in the Premier League.
Berbatov should have scored. Plain and simple. He had, what? Five or six chances?
Speak for yourself Mate.
Personally, I expect Manchester United to beat ten bells out of Fulham 7 out of 10 games… and just beat them comfortably the other 3.
I agree we should beat fulham but all I was saying is its not the end of the world. Other BIG teams drop points there too. We can’t win every single game for goodness sake, points will be dropped here and there. But for a bad decision to let Nani take the penalty the points were in the bag even if we didn’t deserve them. This is partly why man utd fans are hated by so many other supporters, we do not have a God given right to just turn up and win at every ground in the country just because we are the biggest team in the country. Fulham fought hard and got what they deserved
FFS, WHY OH WHY DID NANI TAKE IT WHEN WE HAD OWEN, GIGGS AND SCHOLES ON THE BASTARD CUNTING PITCH?
I don’t think we’ll be the only big side to drop points at the Cottage this season, but at the same time if we’re serious about winning the title, we have to do the double over middling teams like Fulham. A few observations:
-Vidic needs to show a bit of leadership, in terms of leading the team and marshalling the back four. Could Vida not see that Evans was having a tough time against Zamora and pick him up himself?
-Scholes needs two other central midfielders around him, rather than one, who not only compensate for his legs, but as another option for his out-ball. He kept having to look to John O’Shea whenever there was no space throughout the middle, and O’Shea’s passing leaves a lot to be desired
-Please, please, please can a striker take our next penalty? What a lazy effort by Nani
the spineless pussy gay’ish way in which we provided the vaseline to fulham is the biggest concern. no captain, no leader, no one to grab the game and start handing out some beats. weak, feeble and as much personality as a wet fart.
DANNI, AT LEAST A WET FART LETS IT’S PRESENCE BE KNOWN
Chelsea must be pissing themselves, we have no fight and teams they play just let them roll them over….they cannot lose
It could be worse – we could have got beaten there, again
And as for this ‘Woe is me, Chelski are hitting six past teams blah blah’ – they have, without question, the easiest start to the league than any other team. They’ll get a good kick in the bollocks soon enough!
the title is wqrong, we didn’t secure a draw we were left with one because even with owngoals help we couldn’t ‘secure’ a win
We started out firing , got the goal and then relaxed. Once Fulham got hold of the Midfield SAF should have pulled the finger out and done something. Scholes closing down in a midfield 2 leaves alot to be desired. I can’t believe he played the entire game , but who knows if Rooney was fit we could have played a midfield 3 in which Scholes operates much better.
Where was Carrick. Is he injured?
Totally agree with your comments Liam regarding the fact that it isn’t United´s god given right to win every match, but what for me was missing yesterday was the never say die attitude as mentioned elsewhere why didn’t we go for the jugular which with luck could have have ended the game, so often we go one goal up and simply switch off which with clubs such as Fulham can be dangerous as was seen.
Regarding Nani taking the penalty even if he missed he at least had the balls to go for it as it appeared that no one else wanted to. Points will be dropped by all contenders but we do at times make it easy for the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal et al with our attitude.
I’m afraid you and I are coming at this argument from two different perspectives.
No… “we don’t have a God given right to just turn up and win at every ground in the country just because we are the biggest team in the country.”
But as fans of the biggest team in the country, we have a legitimate expectation to see a better team sent out than that one. In my opinion we now have a depressingly reasonable expectation to lose to a lot of teams that we should be beating comfortably.
Do you think Chumpski fans will go to Fulham with anything less than an expectation of 3 points and a satisfying win?
We are no longer a world class team… we are simply an above average team.
If that’s good enough for you… fine… It’s not good enough for me. The reasons why we’re no longer world class is a different argument, about the Glazers, Gill, Ferguson, debt, etc… but the end result is what we’re now seeing… Manchester United trying to win a world class league with second class talent.
Not going to happen.
Well, let’s hope we don’t come to rue loosing 2 points, which we did rather than ‘secure’ one, at the end of the season.. would have been handy 2 points last May!
What is going on with Valencia? More often than not he wastes an opportunity to take them on down the flank.. like he was when he first came…
the Chavs are gonna bum us so badly are arses will be bleeding for days.
I imagine he was thinking about how much further he would have to run back to defend once O’Shea gave the ball away.
lmao! That’s funny… but depressing too!