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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Old Trafford

Bryan’s goal gives relegated Fulham hope for the future after 1-1 draw at Old Trafford

By Alessandro Schiavone at Old Trafford

Joe Bryan was the unlikely hero as Fulham grabbed a 76th minute equaliser against Manchester United at Old Trafford this evening to draw 1-1. Edinson Cavani sent a 35-yard lobbed finish beyond the reach of his back-peddling former PSG teammate Alphonse Areola from David De Gea’s long ball forward to send the returning Manchester United fans into delirium after 15 minutes. But a spirited Fulham side battled back to claim an improbable point at Old Trafford when Bryan, who started for the first time since the reverse fixture in late January, met Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s inch-perfect cross with a textbook header at the far post with 14 minutes to go. Fulham have now racked up seven points on their travels against teams occupying the first five positions. After five minutes, Paul Pogba sent a diving header over the crossbar. The French midfielder got enough power on Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross but not a good connection as Fulham got away with some poor defending. Only 10 minutes later the timeless Cavani beat the offside trap from David De Gea’s long ball forward to send a first-time chip over Areola from 35 yards. At first it appeared as if Bruno Fernandes had flicked on De Gea’s ball forward with his back-heel but the Portuguese did not and the goal should have been disallowed as the Uruguayan superstar found himself in an offside position when De Gea smashed the ball forward. On a day when Manchester United legends Eric Cantona and Roy Keane were inducted in the Premier League Hall of Fame many may wonder if Cavani would have followed in their illustrious footsteps one day had he joined the Red Devils in his pomp. On the half-hour mark, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa directed a free header straight at De Gea before Fabio Carvalho spurned a glorious opportunity to pull Fulham level. The 18-year old Portuguese, who broke his Premier League duck against Southampton in midweek, made a great run in behind Victor Lindelof to beat the Swedish centre-back to Ademola Lookman’s through ball but aimed a weak right-footed shot at De Gea. Before half-time Lookman’s poor clearance from a set-piece nearly gifted Fernandes the chance to extend the lead but Areola, arguably Fulham’s best player this season, made a comfortable save. On the stroke of half-time Luke Shaw could have extended United’s lead and put the game beyond the grasp for the Londoners when he galloped forward only to send a thumping effort wide of the post. Two minutes after the restart Mario Lemina fired a speculative effort across the face of goal from outside the penalty area. On 51 minutes, Fernandes went for power to send his free-kick uncharacteristically wide. And minutes later the former Sporting Lisbon midfielder’s second free-kick from an awkward angle was pushed away by De Gea. Fulham’s recent results didn’t inspire much hope but on the balance of play the Cottagers thoroughly deserved the point. After an uninspiring first-half, Fulham got into better areas and managed to keep the Red Devils’ at arm’s length from open-play in the second period thanks to their tenacity, positional sense and first and foremost pride. They may be down but they want to do so with their heads held high. Fulham grew in confidence in the last 20 minutes and started to ask serious questions of Manchester United’s shaky defence. Bit-part left-back Bryan split the hosts’ backline open with a pass into the path of Lookman who aimed for the top corner at the near post. De Gea, who slipped behind Dean Henderson in the pecking order and may be on his way out this summer, pulled off a great save with his right hand in Manuel Neuer-esque fashion before he also thwarted Carvalho’s rebound too. Then Cavani dropped deep to send Mason Greenwood on route to goal but the young Yorkshireman was denied by Areola before Fernandes, who has known better days at the office, uncharacteristically skied the follow-up. Very often this season Fulham have not been awarded for putting a shift in and outplaying their opponents before they eventually conceded a goal. But not this time. They stayed in the game and gave United a taste of their own medicine when Bryan stunned the United players and ecstatic faithful with a 76th minute header out of nowhere to restore parity. De Cordova-Reid broke down the right after Anguissa had squeezed the ball to him before he whipped in a cross for Bryan to head home the leveller at the far post. It’s a draw that will long live in the memory of the Fulham fans. It’s only the third time in 15 visits that they didn’t lose on this turf and also their first point here since February 2014. If only the Cottagers could face a top-six side every other week they certainly wouldn’t find themselves in such a predicament and with

Championship football looming in three months’ time. Manchester United 1 David De Gea- 2 Victor Lindelof- 6 Paul Pogba – 7 Edinson Cavani- 11 Mason Greenwood- 17 Fred- 18 Bruno Fernandes- 23 Luke Shaw- 29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka- 38 Axel Tuanzebe- 39 Scott McTominay Fulham FC A spirited second-half performance saw Fulham 1 Alphonse Areola- 13 Tim Ream- 14 Bobby De Cordova Reid- 16 Tosin Adarabioyo- 17 Ivan Cavaleiro- 18 Mario Lemina- 19 Ademola Lookman- 21 Harrison Reed- 23 Joe Bryan- 29 Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa- 48 Fabio Carvalho


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