Fulham 0-1 Man United: Bruno Fernandes nets 91st-minute winner
Fulham 0-1 Man United: Bruno Fernandes nets 91st-minute winner as Erik ten Hag’s men bounce back from consecutive defeats to pick up vital victory at Craven Cottage
- Scott McTominay had a first-half goal ruled out for offside after a VAR review
- Bruno Fernandes stepped up in the final minute to score the winning goal
- The result eases a little of the pressure that has been building on Erik ten Hag
For more than 90 minutes, Erik ten Hag needed a break and he couldn’t get one. Scott McTominay had an early goal chalked off.
Manchester United huffed and puffed unconvincingly as they tried to deliver the win that would quell the rumblings over their manager’s position.
‘Play like you mean it’, declared a banner among the United fans and while this was a gritty performance, it was one lacking in quality. One that really summed up United at the moment; a team still playing for their manager but simply not good enough.
But just when it looked as though Ten Hag was going to end an abysmal week with a rather drab goalless draw here at Craven Cottage, his captain Bruno Fernandes came to the rescue with an injury-time winner.
It owed much to the tenacity of substitute Facundo Pellistri who chased down Antonee Robinson close to the byeline in the first minute of added time. The ball ran loose to Tim Ream who smacked the ball into Pellistri. Joao Palhinha couldn’t get it away from the young Uruguayan either.
Bruno Fernandes celebrates scoring a late winner for Erik ten Hag’s side at Fulham
United’s players celebrated wildly after Bruno’s huge goal gave them all three points
The ball ran to Fernandes on the edge of the box, then back to Pellistri and McTominay. It really was a dog’s dinner. Finally, Fernandes got hold of it again and twisted this way then that on the edge of the box before firing low towards the bottom corner. Bernd Leno got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.
The United players ran to their fans to celebrate. On the touchline, Ten Hag threw his hands in the air. It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of a week that brought humiliation at the hands of Manchester City and Newcastle, he will take it. This game was all about the result rather than the performance.
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Leno; Castagne, Bassey, Ream, Robinson; Wilson (Cairney 90), Palhinha; Iwobi (Jimenez 89), Pereira (De Cordova Reid 81), Willian (Lukic 76); Muniz (Vinicius 76)
Subs: Rodak, Reed, Ballo-Toure, De Fougerolles.
Booked: Robinson, Palhinha, Iwobi, Wilson
Manager: Marco Silva
MAN UTD (4-2-3-1): Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Evans, Dalot; Eriksen (Mount 79), McTominay; Antony (Pellistri 64), Fernandes,Garnacho (Varane 90+3); Hojlund (Martial 79).
Subs: Bayindir, Amrabat, Reguilon, Mainoo, Mejbri.
Scorer: Fernandes 90+1
Booked: Garnacho, Dalot
Manager: Erik ten Hag
Referee: John Brooks
The Dutchman knows his team need to be so much more convincing though. There has been an element of their last three wins before this against Brentford, Sheffield United and Copenhagen, and here was another on a rather forgettable encounter.
Harry Maguire summed up United’s battling performance, recovering from an early blow on the head to lead the defensive effort. Aaron Wan-Bissaka impressed too on his first start since mid-September.
But when the defenders are your best performers, you know it’s not going very well. United created lots of pretty patterns with their passing again, but there is a chronic shortage of ideas and penetration in this team.
Their problems worsened before had been kicked when Marcus Rashford was ruled out with a leg injury suffered in training after failing a late fitness test.
Given that Ten Hag revealed on the eve of this game that Rashford was reprimanded – and had apologised – for celebrating his birthday in a city centre nightclub after last Sunday’s defeat in the Manchester derby, it begged the question that he might have been dropped.
‘I think we have to close that case, I said everything about it,’ replied the United boss. ‘He was travelling with us, but he didn’t make it. We tested him, but he’s not fit.’
With Casemiro out of action for several weeks with a hamstring strain suffered in the dismal Carabao Cup defeat to Newcastle in midweek and Raphael Varane still only fit for the bench, it was another setback that Ten Hag could well have done without. At least Wan-Bissaka was able to make his first start after injury, and exciting teenager Kobbie Mainoo returned on the bench after hurting his ankle in pre-season.
Fulham boss Marco Silva was able to recall former United man Andreas Pereira, Harry Wilson and Rodrigo Muniz, who was making his first Premier League start.
United had a goal disallowed in the first half after Harry Maguire was caught offside and deemed to be interfering with play
Scott McTominay thought he’d scored from Alejandro Garnacho’s cross but after a four-minute VAR review the goal was chalked off
Maguire also received medical attention twice for a head injury but was able to play the full 90 minutes
It looked like things had gone from bad to worse for Ten Hag within moments of the kick-off when Maguire challenged Muniz and appeared to take an accidental shoulder to the jaw. The England defender needed several minutes of treatment as Varane warmed up just in case.
Maguire was able to continue and he was involved in the main talking point of the first half in the seventh minute when United won a freekick close to the Fulham goal.
Christian Eriksen floated it to the back post where Rashford’s replacement Alejandro Garnacho steered to back across for the unmarked McTominay to sidefoot home from close-range. McTominay wheeled away to celebrate what would have been his fourth goal in five games for United but VAR was already looking at Maguire’s involvement.
Jarred Gillet decided that the United defender was offside and had prevented Muniz from getting to Garnacho as they tangled in the box. Referee John Brooks was advised to go to the monitor after several minutes of deliberation as Ten Hag chewed anxiously on his gum, and it was clear from that moment that McTominay’s effort would be ruled out.
There wasn’t a great deal else to talk about in a first half lacking in quality. It was summed when Harry Wilson and Alex Iwobi fired high into the United fans behind Andre Onana’s goal, and were then outdone by Diogo Dalot with an even worse effort ballooned into the home end. Fernandes aimed another 20-yard effort tamely into the hands of Leno.
There was little quality on show, as Alex Iwobi (centre) fired over when well placed
Andre Onana made a couple of important saves in the second half as United came under pressure at times
Fulham threatened twice in the minutes before half-time but Pereira took a heavy touch in the box and allowed Eriksen to get back and block, and then Willian cut inside to curl a shot narrowly wide of the far post.
The Brazilian was on the end of two counter attacks early in the second half as well but saw his cut-back intercepted by Wan-Bissaka and then fired wide from a promising position.
But Fulham had their tails up and United were suddenly on the ropes. Onana made an unconventional save to keep out Wilson’s long-range effort after Garnacho shied out of a challenge with Iwobi, and the Cameroon keeper beat away Palhinha’s effort moments later.
Alejandro Garnacho looked dangerous, but also got booked in the second half for a late tackle
Antony struggled on the opposite flank and was taken off just after the hour mark
The result gives Erik ten Hag some breathing space after back-to-back defeats at home
Garnacho was booked for fouling Timothy Castagne after messing up a needless backheel, as Antony had done in the first half. The latter was replaced by Pellistri in the 64th minute after another infuriatingly ineffective display.
Pellistri rollled a shot at Leno, Iwobi stuck another effort high into the stands and Muniz went off in tears after picking up an injury.
Ten Hag sent on Mason Mount and Antony Martial in a bid to snatch victory and Leno was finally forced into a save of note as he pushed away Fernandes’ free kick.
But he couldn’t deny the United skipper again when he applied the vital finish in added time.
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