Man Utd shellshocked as last- gasp Fulham stun Old Trafford
Another disaster for Moyes as his side fail to win, despite 31 shots at goal
Manchester United 2 Fulham 2. A last-gasp goal from Darren Bent earned Fulham a precious point at Old Trafford on Sunday against Manchester United. It was an incredible end to an astonishing game, one that United dominated but one which underlined how brittle their self-belief – and their defence – has become since the departure of Alex Ferguson.
"Today was as bad as it gets," conceded a shellshocked David Moyes. "We dominated the game. Being one down was bad enough. The amount of attempts, chances and play we had was unbelievable. How we didn't win I have no idea... We should have won but a couple of lapses cost us. I think we only had to defend three or four times in the whole game."
The official match stats will only add to Moyes' mystification. His boys enjoyed 75 percent of the possession, had 31 shots at goal compared to Fulham's six, took ten corners to their visitors' one and crossed the ball 81 times to Fulham's four. Yet for all their huffing and puffing, the point they earned leaves them in seventh spot, four points adrift of Everton, who were beaten 1-0 by Tottenham earlier in the day.
As for Fulham they remain rooted to the bottom but one wonders what it will do for the Cottagers' morale as they look to avoid the drop. "The team worked so hard in the first half and when you go 2-1 down at these kind of places you think the worst but we hoped for one more chance and I managed to put it away," said a breathless Bent, moments after the final whistle. "I hope this can be a turning point. When you come here you always have it hard but we didn't let out heads drop."
Fulham skipper Steve Sidwell put the visitors in front on 19 minutes, deftly latching on to Lewis Holtby's lofted pass, and for the next hour they resisted wave after wave of United pressure, with keeper Maarten Stekelenburg making a string of fine saves, including one brilliant reflex effort from Wayne Rooney. Then, as the United faithful grew increasingly fractious, Robin van Persie fired home from close range to leave the scores on 78 minutes.
A little over 60 seconds later United were in front when Michael Carrick's deflected shot left Stekelenburg rooted to the spot. It was harsh luck on battling Fulham and United almost had a third when Javier Hernandez hoofed the ball high in front of goal. Still, no one thought it would matter as the clock ticked into stoppage time. But when Kieran Richardson found himself in space out on the left David De Gea could only parry his rasping shot into the path of Darren Bent who headed home from five yards.
"The most important thing is we got a point," said Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen, who spent six seasons at Old Trafford as Ferguson's assistant. "A lot of people were classifying us as dead and buried. We have far too much quality and team spirit to be down there where we are."
For United there is little time to lick their wounds. On Wednesday they travel to north London to take on an Arsenal side in their own state of shock after being thrashed 5-1 by Liverpool on Saturday. Arsene Wenger has already promised a response from his players and in the aftermath of Sunday's draw Moyes admitted that his players were "hurting" too.
It promises to be an epic encounter in the Emirates on Wednesday as two teams in pain go in search of some pride.