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Man Utd 2-2 Fulham Prem 25 1314 Mirror

last updated Monday 10th February 2014, 10:34 AM
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David McDonnell at The Mirror

Man Utd (0) 2 Fulham (1) 2

Fulham striker Darren Bent struck in injury time to silence Old Trafford as Fulham salvaged a point against Manchester United on Sunday.

Opposing teams used to dread 'Fergie Time' at Old Trafford - now they can't get enough of it.

Fulham became the latest side to twist the knife into David Moyes and his wretched debut season as Manchester United boss with a 94th-minute equaliser that stunned the Theatre of Dreams.

Just when United seemed to have salvaged the game with two goals in 83 seconds, the old failings that have undermined them all season came back to haunt them.

Champions United are now nine points off fourth spot, with Wednesday's trip to Arsenal having taken on a 'must-win' scenario if they are to have a realistic chance of Champions League football next season.

But if United can't beat the Premier League's bottom club at home, then what chance have they got of going to a Gunners team who've been top for so long this season and leaving with a win?

On the back of their defeat at Stoke a week ago, this was another body blow to Moyes and his desire to be seen as a credible successor to Sir Alex Ferguson, who once again watched in dismay from the stands.

The Cottagers joined Southampton, Everton, Swansea and Sunderland in scoring at the death to get something at Old Trafford this season.

They are TWENTY_ONE points worse off than they were at this stage last season - when they were nine clear at the top - and have lost eight times already in the league, with 13 games left to play.

They are out of the FA Cup and the League Cup too, with only the Champions League and their increasingly forlorn pursuit of fourth spot keeping them going.

In simple terms, this season has been an unmitigated disaster for United, who have not missed out on the Champions League for 19 years but are now bracing themselves for that likely indignity.

Moyes and his men jet off to Dubai for a warm-weather break after the Arsenal game, but there was no escaping the heat from their fans following this latest setback.

United produced 81 crosses against Fulham, the most of any side since 2006, but it was an approach at odds with players such as Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie, who like the ball to feet.

What made it worse for Moyes was that this latest setback came against a team managed by Rene Meulensteen, who helped mastermind United's success in the latter years of Ferguson's reign.

Fulham arrived on the back of a miserable run of 13 losses in 16 Premier League games.

But the Londoners took the lead in the 19th minute with a goal that owed everything to the vision of Lewis Holtby, the execution of Steve Sidwell and the shortcomings of United's midfield and defence.

Darren Fletcher was the guilty party, failing to track Sidwell's run from deep, although Rooney, who had been closest to the Fulham man, decided to drop off him at a crucial moment. Sidwell ran on to Holtby's exquisite pass and applied an equally fine finish.

It was the 13th time this season United have fallen behind in the Premier League.

Yet there was no faulting their response - they threw everything at Fulham, who were happy to sit back and adopt a policy of containment.

But United were left susceptible to the counter-attack, and Fulham should have doubled their lead in the 37th minute. From defending a corner, the visitors counter-attacked at high speed, Muamer Tankovic surging forward, accompanied by Kieran Richardson. Tankovic passed to Richardson, leaving the ex-Man United winger with only David De Gea to beat, but he blazed over.

Maarten Stekelenburg continued to thwart United after the break, his superb reactions denying Rooney in the 55th minute as he palmed over a shot at point-blank range.

The pressure finally told in the 78th minute when Mata steered a loose ball back into the danger area and van Persie netted from close-range.

Fulham were still reeling when Michael Carrick's effort from the edge of the area deflected off Scott Parker and beyond Stekelenburg.

That seemed to be it, 2-1 up and Fulham dead on their feet, but, in a crazy finale, they managed to plunder an equaliser.

The soon-to-depart Nemanja Vidic failed to clear the ball, allowing Sidwell to pick out Richardson, whose shot was parried by De Gea, with Darren Bent pouncing to head home.

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