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Fulham 1-1 Man Utd

My first ever United match many years ago was a 1-1 draw against QPR at Loftus Road. That day I was fascinated by the football, but yesterday, despite the same result, I was anything but in awe of the spectacle.

Going back to Loftus Road was sentimental and brought back memories of great encounters during the nineties, many of which were 3-2 or 3-1. I also could not help but remember Eric’s last gasp equaliser in 96 that as good as sent QPR down and won us the title.

The sentimentality wore off as soon as the game began, and unfortunately this was neither an encounter nor a result to match the memories of the past. United were slower and less confident than usual, rarely stringing together a good run of passes, and lacking in spirit. Fulham, who were no great footballing force either, had the better of the game and deserved their half time lead.

The second half was a better display, but Barthez,  G Nev and O’Shea being our star players showed how defensive we were being. With only Fortune and Forlan on the bench to add to our attacking play, a win was going to be a struggle.

In a ground where the atmosphere was far from impressive, United managed to sneak an equaliser. In an almost silent stadium Ole smashed home an absolutely magnificent half volley straight into the roof of the net. A few Reds ran on the pitch in jubilation, leading to a quick struggle with some stewards, but vitaly United were back in the game.

From that point on United dominated the play, but lacked a cutting edge. A stinging shot from Veron was inches from being a wonder goal, but the main point of contention was at the other end. With the Fulham player in on goal Blanc brushed into him and he went down- penalty. It was a hard one to call. Officially he used his shoulders which is allowed, but undeniable he got nowhere near the ball and bundled over the man, so the ref had little choice. Barthez is an experienced keeper, and used some antics which have dominated the press today. For 70 seconds he paced around delaying the penalty and psyched out the opposing player. Ethical or not, he saved the penalty and emerged a hero branded a cheat by the ABU’s. Personally I dont think it was the best show of gamesmanship, but he who dares wins. Fabien dared, and in this situation Fabien won.

The game ended 1-1, although there were big shouts for a United penalty following a hand ball in the area. It was a disppointing score and a poor game, made only a bit brighter by Arsenal losing.

These are the games I would rather not have to write about; poor atmosphere, poor match, poor result. Fortunately a good night out with my girlfriend erased the memories of a bad afternoon, and now I am just looking forward to the Olympiakos game.

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