Fulham 1 v 1 Manchester United
Loftus Road, London
13th December 2004
With the Chelsea and Arsenal draw meaning that both teams had dropped points over the weekend, United could not possibly have been a greater incentive to win this game, but squandered chances and wasted opportunities cost us, as Fulham managed o goal against the run of play with just two minutes to go.
No ground was made up, and perhaps psychologically it was lost. Rooney was unable to finish the lowly London team off - hitting the post, and we really missed Van Nistelrooy. Its the same as at the start of the season when we couldn't seem to score without him either. Fergie should start working on set plays if you ask me!
A full-strength United side, with Smith and Rooney upfront, was turned out - Heinze, Ferdinand, Silvestre and Gary filled the back four, Giggs and Ronaldo romped down the wings and Scholes and Keane covered the middle.
It didn't take long for United to get going with Ronaldo dazzling from the very first touch, as he danced round debutant Rosenoir time and time again.
Ronaldo had a speculative shot, and Roonay hit the post from a one-on-one, whilst captain Keane saw his long-range drive also clip the edge of the post and out of play.
It wasn't until half an hour had passed till United scored, however, despite their complete and absolute dominance. Smith received the ball off Ronaldo, was tackled, and then Fifa style tackled the defender, before poking the ball past the 'keeper. A typical Smith goal.
United didn't manage to build on their lead, despite numerous great chances - Sir Alex said we could have got as many as six - before the break.
Fulham came out renewed, and ready for a fight in the second half, and made quite a go of it, though never really seriosuly threatenin the United goal. Chances for us came and went, and with just two minutes to go we were punished for our lack of clinical finishing, with some Fulham bum blasting the ball in from distance.
1 - 1 and not good enough. It remains a nine-point gap.
Fulham: Van der Sar, Rosenior, Pearce, Rehman, Bocanegra, Malbranque (John 83), Legwinski (Radzinski 74), Pembridge, Diop, Cole, McBride.
Subs Not Used: Flitney, Knight, Hammond.
Booked: Diop, Radzinski.
Goals: Diop 87.
Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Heinze, Ronaldo, Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Smith, Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Howard, Bellion, O'Shea, Fletcher, Fortune.
Goals: Smith 33.
Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).