Manchester United beat Fulham 2-01 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League. Erik ten Hag’s side took the lead in the 14th minute with Christian Eriksen scoring his first United goal. Daniel James scored the equaliser in the 61st minute before Alejandro Garnacho found the winner in the last minute or so of the match. What a goal it was.
United started well against Fulham. Casemiro won a free-kick in the second minute of the match but United did not get anything from it. It was Fulham that got the first big chance of the match after Carlos Vinícius had a shot on goal which David De Gea saved. Bruno Fernandes was offside in the 12th minute after Lisandro Martinez tried a through ball into him.
Fernandes had a shot on goal in the 14th minute of the match but it was blocked. Christian Eriksen then found the ball of the set scoring his first goal for United in the same minute as his shirt number. It was a good finish for the midfielder who has become the second Danish footballer to score the United – the first was Peter Schmeichel back in 1995.
Casemiro tried to double United’s lead in the 19th minute of the match but Bernd Leno made the save. Willian has a shot on goal in the 20th minute but he missed the target. Marcus Rashford has a chance to fins goal number nine this season but Leno made the save easily. Harry Wilson has a shot on goal in the 28th minute but De Gea saved it.
United sought that second goal with Anthony Martial having a shot on the half hour mark but it was saved easily by Leno. Bobby De Cordova-Reid became the first player to be booked in this match after his foul on Rashford in the 32nd minute – he was shown the card in the 33rd minute. Willian had another chance in the 36th minute but missed the target again.
Anthony Elanga won a free-kick for United in the 38th minute of the match but nothing came of the attack. Martial then missed the target in the 40th minute after Luke Shaw found him on the attack. United needed to find that second goal as if Fulham got themselves back into the match – there could be some problems finding a victory.
Two minutes were added on at the end of the first half with United still leading and Fulham trying to build up a credible attack. United really needed to capitalise from their attacking play to get three points in the bag as they are just three points off Tottenham Hotspur, who are fourth in the league – but United have a game in hand.
Eriksen had a chance on goal in the first minute of added time after being played the ball by Fernandes but he missed the target and found the back of the net after it deflected back in from the advertising boards. It was a shame he did not get his second goal for United. Ten Hag will need to get something working in the second half to see United taking the three points on offer.
There were no substitutions for either team at the start of the second half. Tom Cairney got the first chance of the half, missing the target in the 47th minute. United then had two chances on goal in the 48th minute with both Elanga and Rashford seeing their efforts on goal saved by Leno. Martial saw his shot saved in the 50th minute of the match. United needed better finishing.
Carlos Vinícius and Tim Ream both saw their efforst saved by De Gea in the 52nd minute of the match. Fulham were trying to get back into the match. Cairney had a shot blocked a minute later. United made their first substitution in the 55th minute of the match with Scott McTominay replacing Elanga, which meant that Fernandes was shifted into the right-wing position again.
Four minutes later, Fulham made their first substitution with former United winger Daniel James replacing Wilson just before the hour. It did not take long for him to make an impact in the match, scoring the equaliser in the 61st minute of the match. It was a good finish for the Welshman and De Gea was annoyed that he had conceded a goal. United needed to find a second now.
Fulham were seeking to fins a second goal minutes after scoring the first. Vinícius saw his shot blocked in the 65th minute and James missed the target in the 66th minute. João Palhinha then forced a save from De Gea in the 72nd minute of the match with James also seeing an attempt saved in the same minute. United needed to watch out as Fulham could win this match.
United made a second substitution in the 72nd minute as Alejandro Garnacho replaced Martial. Fernandes had a chance to find a second goal for United in the 75th minute of the match but his shot was blocked. Palhinha then missed the target in the 80th minute. United had a chance in the 83rd with McTominay seeking a goal but his missed the target too.
Towards the end of the half, with it looking like another draw for United, McTominay had another chance on goal but it was saved by Leno. Fulham made another substitution in the second minute of added time with Josh Onomah replacing Cairney. In the third minute, Garnacho score his second goal of the season and it was a great finish.
Garnacho has become a decent player for United this season. I would have liked to see him start today but this might not have happened and that is the best part of him not starting. United pushed to get the result and three points in the bag prior to the FIFA World Cup is as good as it can be for now. Just three points behind Spurs with a game in hand.
United obviously do not play a competitive match until they face Burnley in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford in the week of Christmas – which is still yet to be arranged but do have some friendly matches against Cadiz and Real Betis during a winter training camp in Spain next month. It will be a long wait for club football again but at least there will be football to watch.
David De Gea: Started the match well and made a save, which was deflected towards goal at 0-0. Dealt with both Carlos Vinicius and Tim Ream’s efforts on goal but conceded a goal by former United player Daniel James, who had a good finish. It was a shame he did not get a clean sheet but at least it was a victory for United. ★★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: This was not a comfortable match for him. Playing on the right for a left-back is not the best but United had few options. It was never going to be a proper solution. It shows that United do need another option at right-back as Aaron Wan-Bissaka clearly is not in Erik ten Hag’s plans – which is understandable. ★★★★
Victor Lindelof: Despite everyone knowing that he can be like a rabbit in the headlights, he did what was needed against Fulham. He was tested a few times and Fulham did not give up but the Swedish defender put his foot down and helped his teammates. Lisandro Martinez was the best of the defence and it was clearly visible. ★★★★★★
Lisandro Martinez: He was once again one of the best United players on the pitch and the best defender. His signing in the summer was a brilliant move by Erik ten Hag. He was stout at defending and was calm and composed when under pressure, which was not something his teammates could say. The Butcher. ★★★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: He was bright in the final third on the attack and should have perhaps had another assist for Anthony Martial’s chance which was ended up on the roof of the net. Ofer the past month or so, he has raised his game and found that form he has almost two years ago. It is good to see him find that again. ★★★★★★★
Casemiro: Helped link up the defence with the attack when Christian Eriksen scored his first goal for United. He was solid in front of the back four and seemed comfortable at times. However, United’s attack was not the best today. Perhaps when every player is fit, it will become much better for him and United? ★★★★★★★
Christian Eriksen: Got his first United goal and ended the match with an assist too. Had another chance to score at the end of the first half but missed the target. It was good to see him back to his best for United ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this month. He’s one of the players of the season for me. ★★★★★★★
Anthony Elanga: Added something in a more defensive nature even though he was playing as an attacker. Helped to shield Tyrell Malacia at right-back with Diogo Dalot missing due to suspension this weekend. When he was replaced by Scott McTominay, United struggled to get the chances in. I’d like to see him do more. ★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: He played in his best role in the first half and helped with Christian Eriksen’s first goal for the club, although there was a deflection involved which adds to United’s luck. He was at fault for giving the ball away ahead of Fulham’s equaliser. It was a good team performance but more is needed from Fernandes. ★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: He was erratic at times, even playing in his favoured left-wing position. He seemed to run into blind alleys rather than positions whereby he could provide something. United needed to do more on the ball at times. He is the top scorer for the club this season but even he will not be pleased with that. ★★★★★
Anthony Martial: He seemed to bet at the pace to play in this match and had chances, but failed to bury them as he has done a few times this season. He now has time to get his fitness back and get things going as some of his teammates head to Qatar for the World Cup. ★★★★★★
Scott McTominay: Replaced Elanga 55′. Perhaps it was the wrong substitution but with few attacking players, there were no other options. He did not rise from his goal on Thursday and kind of bumbled through the match. It was the wrong substitution at the wrong time for United – who struggled to find a winner. ★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: Replaced Martial 72′. He was lively through his performance and looked to make the difference in the match – which he did. He pounced on Christian Eriksen’s ball on the wing, played it into the Dane for his to assist his superb winner. What a player is going to become in the not too distant future. ★★★★★★★★
Goals: Daniel James 61′; Christian Eriksen 14′, Alejandro Garnacho 90+3′
Assists: Tom Cairney 61′; Christian Eriksen 90+3′
Manchester United: De Gea; Malacia, Lindelof, Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen; Elanga (McTominay 55′), Fernandes, Rashford; Martial (Garnacho 72′)
Substitutes Not Used: Bishop, Dubravka; Maguire; Fred, van de Beek, Iqbal
Bookings: Bobby De Cordova-Reid 33′; Alejandro Garnacho 90+4′
Written by John Walker