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Manchester United 1-1 Fulham: Cavani nets screamer but Reds held at Old Trafford

Edinson Cavani scored one of the goals of the season in front of fans at Old Trafford.

Manchester United v Fulham - Premier League Photo by Phil Noble - Pool/Getty Images

Ticketed fans poured into Old Trafford for the first time since March 2020 for Tuesday’s 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Fulham. It wasn’t a great performance from Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side, particularly against a relegated opponent, but was memorable for a first-half screamer scored by star striker Edinson Cavani. Fulham’s second half equaliser ensured that United still haven’t mathematically secured second place, but would do so if Leicester fail to beat Chelsea later today.

United were comfortably on top for the first few minutes, but didn’t create a clear-cut chance until after Cavani’s brilliant opener on the quarter-hour. David de Gea fizzed a low pass into Bruno Fernandes, who appeared to send the Uruguayan scampering through on goal with the deftest of flicks. Spotting Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola off his line, Cavani tried a first-time chip from some 40 yards, clearing the Frenchman’s head and rippling the back of the net. Replays suggested that Fernandes had not in fact touched the ball and that the goal should have been ruled out for offside, but the decision wasn’t sufficiently clear-cut for VAR to intervene.

The remainder of the opening half was a fairly sloppy affair, with neither side able to settle into comfortable spells of possession. With United having already secured Champions League football, and Fulham consigned to relegation, it is perhaps little wonder that the game had the feel of a pre-season friendly. The visitors’ best first-half chance came just over five minutes before halftime, when Ademola Lookman bisected Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Victor Lindelöf with a perfectly weighted low pass. Fabio Carvalho’s neat first-touch took him across and away from Lindelöf, but he was denied by de Gea in the one-on-one.

United were in comfortable control of the game early in the second half, but struggled to find the all-important second goal. Fernandes went close with a free-kick five minutes after the restart, though his swerving effort from the edge of the penalty area grazed the outside of the post. At the other end, de Gea made a double-save to preserve United’s precious lead, denying Lookman from wide on the left before snaffling Ivan Cavaleiro’s close-range header.

Mason Greenwood should have killed the game off inside the final 20 minutes, though he fired straight at Areola after charging onto Cavani’s nicely weighted through ball. Fernandes had a half-chance on the rebound, though sliced wildly into the East Stand. It proved a costly miss, as just a couple of minutes later Fulham netted an equaliser. A tame tackle from Luke Shaw enabled André-Frank Zambo Anguissa to pick out Bobby Decordova-Reid in acres of space down Fulham’s right, whose perfect, curling cross was powered home off the forehead of left wing-back Joe Bryan.

No longer playing like a side consigned to the second tier, Fulham pushed forward in search of a winning goal. Despite an end-to-end final few minutes, however, the game ended all-square. It was far from United’s most polished performance of the season, but with their focus doubtless on next week’s Europa League final, they might be forgiven a less-than-perfect display.