LONDON ENGLAND - AUGUST 22: Brede Hangeland of Fulham scores their second goal with a header during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Manchester United at Craven Cottage on August 22 2010 in London England. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Before the game began I was not sure what to expect from Fulham today against Manchester United at Craven Cottage. With their top goalkeeper out, could Fulham get some kind of result? Well, the Cottagers delivered in dramatic fashion with a late goal by Brede Hangeland to earn the 2 - 2 draw with Manchester United. This match turned out to be an incredible game with many twists and turns especially in the second half. The Cottagers showed everyone why they will be a threat to go back to Europe next season.
The first half saw Manchester United come out strong. The pressure really began in the ninth minute. It continued in the 9th minute with a brilliant save by David Stockdale off of a shot by Dimitar Berbatov.
All of the pressure led up to the a goal by Manchester United. In the 11th minute, Berbatov set up nicely a long shot by Paul Scholes that got by Stockdale in the corner of the net. The play of the visitors was hard and led to the goal. Manchester United were now up 1 - 0.
Fulham's first real chance of the half came shortly after the goal by Manchester United. In the 12th minute, a nice header from Bobby Zamora led to a nice shot by Simon Davies that just went over the net.
Manchester United would then have several minutes of pressure once again. In the 16th minute, Javier Hernandez had a shot on net that just went wide. In the 21st minute, Berbatov had a great chance to put United by two goals. His shot inside the box is nicely saved by David Stockdale.
The question of the first half was when would Fulham start the fight back into the game? It would begin in the 23rd minute with a cross by Paul Konchesky was headed by Bobby Zamora that just goes wide of the net. The best chance of the half for Fulham would come in the 31st minute. Dickson Etuhu had two great shots on net back to back. Edwin Van de Sar made two great saves to keep United in the lead.
Overall, it was a very entertaining first half. Manchester United were in control in the beginning, but Fulham really fought back and came close to leveling the match. The play of Fulham got better as the half went on, but they still trailed 1 - 0 at the end of the first 45 minutes.
The second half began just like the first half with sustained pressure by Manchester United. With Fulham down a goal you would think they would be forcing the play, but it was the visitors who were taking the game to the home side.
However, Fulham would start to make their move about 6 minutes into the second half. Fulham started to get some pressure of their own and their hard work would finally pay off. In the 57th minute, Damien Duff sent a ball to Bobby Zamora who laid it back to Simon Davies inside the box. He lined up his shot an blew it past Van der Sar to level the match at 1 - 1. All of the hard work got the needed result. The game was now on.
As you can imagine, Manchester United would start to hit back hard at the Cottagers. In the 77th minute, a free kick by Nani just goes over the net. In the 79th minute, a corner by Manchester United would lead to a header by Vidic that just went wide.
In the middle of this pressure by Manchester United, Fulham would have their chance as well. In the 80th minute, Paul Konchesky had a free kick that leads to a nice shot by Zamora that just goes wide. After this miss we were set up for the incredible finish to this match.
The pressure from Manchester United was coming very hard. In the 82nd minute Vidic had another header that just went wide off of a corner kick. Manchester United's pressure was intense at this point.
The attacking play of Manchester United finally paid off for them in the 84th minute. Nani had a corner kick that went into the box and was kicked in by Brede Hangeland. His own goal gave Manchester United the lead 2 - 1.
It almost got much worse for Fulham shortly afterwards as Damien Duff was called for a handball inside the box. Manchester United were awarded a penalty kick. Nani had the chance to put the match away for United. Well, his shot was anticipated by David Stockdale and he made an incredible diving save to keep Fulham alive.
Now, up to this point your probably thinking Fulham have played hard and it was too bad they would not see any kind of result. You can think again with this Fulham squad. Brede Hangeland would have the opportunity to redeem himself. In the 90th minute, off of a corner kick by Damien Duff he heads the ball past Van der Sar to level Fulham 2 - 2 with only stoppage time remaining.
The game would end four minutes later with Fulham earning a well deserved point from a 2 - 2 draw with Manchester United. This really was a tremendous match and reminded me why I enjoy following Fulham. The Cottagers fight to the end and never give up. They have a chance this season to do something special. They showed everyone today what they are made of.