Premier League - Hangeland heroics deny United

Eurosport - Sun, 22 Aug 17:54:00 2010

Brede Hangeland scored a late goal at both ends as Fulham claimed a thrilling 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Craven Cottage.

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The defender looked to have gifted United victory when he unwittingly diverted a corner into his own net six minutes from time. But he went from villain to hero as he powered in a superb 90th-minute header to give Fulham a deserved share of the points.

Seconds earlier, Nani had a penalty saved that would have given United a 3-1 advantage.

Paul Scholes had given United a first-half lead with a long-range piledriver, but seen it cancelled out by Simon Davies.

United have not won at Craven Cottage in their last three attempts, and the result allowed new Fulham boss Mark Hughes to get one over his old boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

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A stomach bug sidelined United striker Wayne Rooney, handing a start to Javier Hernandez alongside Dimitar Berbatov. The pair quickly set about proving United are less reliant on Rooney than last season, combining well in the final third.

Berbatov went close to his third goal in as many games this season with an acrobatic volley on 10 minutes, but was denied by an agile save by the excellent David Stockdale who deputised for the supposedly injured and probably Arsenal-bound Mark Schwarzer.

A minute later, Stockdale was beaten by the brilliance of Scholes. United played a corner to the edge of the box where Berbatov teed up the midfielder, who lashed in a low shot from 28 yards.

It was a magnificent goal that will increase the clamour around the in-form 35-year-old, whom some impulsive bookmakers have apparently installed as favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award. Two good games down, just 36 to go.

Fulham beat United at Craven Cottage last season and refused to be cowed. Simon Davies went close with a volley from the edge of the box two minutes after Scholes's goal, then Bobby Zamora glanced a header wide.

Dickson Etuhu went even closer on the half-hour mark, only to be denied by a miraculous double save by Edwin van der Sar - still, a more clinical finisher than Etuhu would have given the goalkeeper no chance with the follow-up after his original save.

At the other end, the lively Hernandez shot wide from 20 yards, while Berbatov brought two saves from Stockdale and mis-kicked when Antonio Valencia supplied him with a good chance.

The first-half ended with a scare for United when captain Nemanja Vidic went down clutching his neck after an unchallenged header.

He emerged apparently unscathed but did not have his brain in gear when he clearly pulled debutant Moussa Dembele's shirt - the Serbian extremely lucky not to concede a penalty.

Fulham levelled after a magnificent piece of skills by Damien Duff on the right flank. The Irishman guided the ball past Patrice Evra, left the Frenchman for dead and cut inside, before playing the ball down the right channel for Zamora who pulled back to the penalty spot, and Davies finished with aplomb; his shot too powerful for Van der Sar's hand to keep out.

Fulham's confidence grew further and they looked the more likely winners. Vidic got away with his tug on Dembele, while United's long-time nemesis Danny Murphy tested Van der Sar with a long shot.

But it was United who made what looked like a decisive move when a Ryan Giggs corner hit Hangeland on the shin and squirted between Stockdale and the defenders on the line.

It looked like game over when Duff was harshly adjudged to have handled inside the box.

But Nani - inexplicably allowed to take the kick ahead of Scholes and Giggs - hit a tame penalty that Stockdale saved diving to his right.

Nani's profligacy was quickly punished, as Hangeland rose high to meet a corner and sent an unstoppable header into the bottom right corner.

Alex Chick / Eurosport

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