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Fulham Holds Man United To 2-2 Draw

London : Fulham twice came from behind to hold Manchester United to a 2-2 draw in the Premier League on Sunday, with Brede Hangeland atoning for an own goal by heading in an equalizer. The

PTI [ Updated: August 23, 2010 21:58 IST ]
fulham holds man united to 2 2 draw
fulham holds man united to 2 2 draw

London : Fulham twice came from behind to hold Manchester United to a 2-2 draw in the Premier League on Sunday, with Brede Hangeland atoning for an own goal by heading in an equalizer.

The defender sent Damien Duff's corner into the net _ five minutes after accidentally turning Ryan Giggs' corner past his own goalkeeper.

"I looked at the clock after my own goal and thought I had five minutes to score at the right end, and fortunately I managed to do it," Hangeland said. "I don't think there was much I could do about the own goal, but I'm glad I could make up for it."

Fortune appeared to be favoring United straight after Hangeland's own goal when a spot kick was awarded against Duff for kicking an attempted clearance against his arm.

But Nani's penalty was blocked by David Stockdale _ filling in for injured Arsenal-target Mark Schwarzer _ diving low to his right.

"When you have the lead and you have the opportunity to seal the game with a penalty, you think you're home and dry," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "To miss a penalty kick to make it 3-1, you're throwing two points away there, I'm afraid. You don't want to be dropping silly points and we dropped silly points today."

Simon Davies had equalized for Fulham at the start of the second half, canceling out Paul Scholes' 11th-minute opener for United.

 The low, powerful strike was the 35-year-old Scholes' 150th United goal and he looked set to dominate the headlines again with an accomplished midfield performance _ just as he had achieved with age-defying displays in the 3-1 win against Chelsea in the Community Shield and the league-opening 3-0 victory against Newcastle on Monday.

 "It's never easy to score from 20-odd yards. He has a tremendous record and once again he's done it," Ferguson said. "Again, he was one of the best players on the pitch."

From the outset at Craven Cottage, Scholes was spraying passes along the surface with his trademark accuracy.

The 18-time English champions didn't appear to be missing striker Wayne Rooney, whose hopes of ending a 13-match run without a competitive goal were thwarted by a virus. The England striker's absence enabled Javier Hernandez to make his first United start and the Mexico forward combined well with Dimitar Berbatov.

 It was their linkup play that saw Berbatov produce a volley that Stockdale tipped over, earning the corner that led to Scholes putting United ahead.

Fulham responded by pressing forward with the confidence of a team that had beaten United on its previous two visits.

 It took two saves from former Fulham goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar to keep out an equalizer. Clint Dempsey flicked the ball onto Dickson Etuhu, whose first shot was
ocked by Van der Sar's low save and the rebound was tipped over with the Dutchman's outstretched arm.

In the matchday program, Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed had warned United to stay away from his players.

 "They cannot go on looking in our window whenever the fancy takes them," Al Fayed wrote, having seen Chris Smalling in the offseason follow Van der Sar and Louis Saha by heading to Old Trafford in recent years.

Van der Sar couldn't keep out Davies' equalizer in the 57th. Damien Duff fought off Patrice Evra's pressure near the halfway line and picked out Zamora after rampaging forward.

  The England forward laid the ball back to Davies, who had drifted into the penalty area unchecked and dispatched the ball low into the corner.

  Nani came on in the 67th minute and immediately presented Berbatov with a chance to restore United's lead, but the Bulgaria forward was denied by Stockdale.

  "Stockdale has done very well, he's a good young 'keeper," Fulham manager Mark Hughes said. "We're pleased with what he's producing at the moment, but it's always difficult for young 'keepers.

  "They get by initially on enthusiasm but can they keep it up over time? We've got to be careful with him."

  With 10 minutes to go, Fulham had a golden chance to go in front, but Bobby Zamora volleyed wide after Paul Konchesky's free kick floated over Jonny Evans.

Fulham remain unbeaten at the start of its record-setting 10th season in the top flight with two straight draws.  AP

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