Fulham vs Manchester United - Garnacho the hero as Fulham rue missed chances.
By Dylan Munowenyu
Fulham hosted Manchester United at Craven Cottage in the final match of the Premier League before we head into the World Cup break, with United taking all 3 points thanks to a 93rd minute winner from 18-year-old substitute Alejandro Garnacho.
The Cottagers who currently sit in 9th headed into the tie after a bitter defeat to title holders Manchester City due to a controversial penalty being converted by leading goal scorer Erling Haaland, Fulham also played again without frontman Aleksandar Mitrovic who is still out with an ankle ligament injury. Meanwhile 5th place Red Devils were aiming to bounce back after a shock 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa at the hands of new manager Unai Emery allowing rivals Liverpool to close the gap to 1 point before kick-off.
Craven Cottage Football Ground
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Kenneth Yarham - geograph.org.uk/p/778731
Fulham Line-up (4-2-3-1): GK – Bernd Leno. DEF – Antonee Robinson, Tim Ream, Issa Diop, Bobby Decordova-Reid. MID – Tom Cairney, Joao Palhinha, Willian, Andreas Pereira, Harry Wilson. FWD – Carlos Vinicius.
Manchester United Line-up (4-2-3-1): GK – David De Gea, DEF – Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez, Victor Lindelof, Tyrell Malacia. MID – Christian Eriksen, Casemiro, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Elanga. FWD – Anthony Martial
In the opening 10 minutes of the game United struggled to get out of their own half as Fulham bombarded the backline with various attacks coming from the left side through Antonee Robinson. Within the first 5 Fulham forced David De Gea into a trademark save with his legs after Robinson slipped the ball through to Willian who drove towards the goal line before swiftly cutting it back, wrong footing Tyrell Malacia and giving Carlos Vinicius a chance to take a low shot on goal but the United No.1 was equal to it.
Around the 15-minute mark United continued to struggle with the high press from an eager Fulham side who had been threatening to break the duct first, the hosts became complacent and Manchester United equalise as Brazilian Midfielder Andreas Pereira’s misplaced pass is intercepted by Casemiro in the centre of the field who then calmy plays it into the feet of Anthony Martial.
The French striker drives towards the box before laying it off to his left towards Bruno Fernandes who attempts a poor shot across the face of goal but unfortunately for Bernd Leno the ball slips underneath him and rolls towards the back post leaving the goal wide open for a Christian Eriksen tap in.
At the start of the second half Anthony Elanga makes a darting run in behind the Fulham back line leaving him 1 on 1 but Leno quickly closes the angle on the Swedish youngster and is able to make a great save and follows it up with another after Marcus Rashford meets the parried shot on the follow up but just like the previous attempt he is unable to convert.
Fulham equalised just past the hour mark as Fulham substitute Dan James poked the ball past De Gea, the home side punished Malacia for being out of position as a long ball reached Willian allowing the Brazilian to lay off Tom Cairney on the right hand side of the box who plays an incredibly timed ball across the face of goal leaving the former United man open to tap it in.
Despite the hosts impressive efforts to get points out of this fixture, United scored the winner in the final seconds of the match as Argentinian Youngster Alejandro Garnacho gets the Red Devils all 3 points after slotting a perfectly placed shot in the bottom right corner after playing a fast 1-2 with Christian Eriksen on the left side of the 18 yard box and blazing past Decordova-Reid with pace before his composed finish.
Even though he was on the losing side of this match, Joao Palhinha deserved his Player Of The Match award as the Portuguese midfielder had gave a commanding performance in the middle of the park setting a new EPL record of 9 tackles in a game whilst also winning 12 of his duels more than any other player.