Manchester United broke the Premier League cross record and completely dominated possession at home to Fulham on Sunday, but somehow conceded twice on the counter-attack as the division's basement club held them at home.
The Cottagers rarely ventured out of their box at all, and yet managed to take the lead inside 20 minutes when Steve Sidwell ran into acres of space inexplicably vacated by Nemanja Vidić (perhaps he was looking for Milan already?) and slotted Lewis Holtby's chip past David de Gea.
A United barrage ensued, with Rafael, Ashley Young and Juan Mata all peppering the Fulham penalty area with reasonably good crosses. A mixture of bad fortune, good defending and poor finishing -- principally from Robin van Persie -- ensured that Fulham clung on.
Alarmingly when Fulham did counter they looked dangerous, and on a quick break debutant striker Muamer Tanković slipped in an open Kieran Richardson. Fortunately for United, the ex-Red did his old club a favour and skied a chance he really ought to have scored, right on the stroke of halftime.
The siege resumed in the second half, but still Fulham clung to their narrow advantage. Crosses, crosses and more crosses flew in from all angles, before United finally caught a break with just over ten minutes remaining. A loose ball on the edge of the area fell to Juan Mata, whose volley towards the far post was tapped in by van Persie.
Suddenly United had the confidence, and Fulham had lost it. They left space on the edge of the box for Michael Carrick a couple of minutes after the equaliser, and amazingly he took advantage; looping a shot into the top corner with the help of a Scott Parker deflection.
United should've comfortably seen the game out from then on. After all, Fulham had barely left their own box all match, let alone their own half, right?
Alas, they weren't keen on following the script. Normal service was resumed as Carrick made a crucial error in the third minute of stoppage time, and Darren Bent scored a last-gasp equaliser to sink United.
It was a bitter pill to swallow after a game in which United could and should have filled their boots. While this game more than any we've seen before provided evidence for the 'Moyes only knows crosses' brigade, United had several good chances to put the ball in the back of the net. On another day, they could have scored five or six. That they didn't, means the inquest will once again reopen.
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