EPL

Bruno Fernandes nets Man Utd winner in comeback against Fulham to clinch third

By Sports Desk May 28, 2023

Manchester United sealed third spot as Bruno Fernandes’ smart finish completed a 2-1 comeback win against Fulham on the final day of the Premier League season.

Having sealed Champions League qualification with Thursday’s 4-1 victory against Chelsea, Erik ten Hag’s men overcame west London opposition once again on Sunday.

Kenny Tete opened the scoring and Fulham had the chance to extend their lead, only for long-serving United goalkeeper David De Gea – whose contract has yet to be extended beyond the summer – to stop Aleksandar Mitrovic’s spot-kick.

That save inspired an impressive United turnaround, with Jadon Sancho putting the hosts level before Fred slipped Fernandes through to coolly complete a 2-1 triumph.

The three points saw United beat Newcastle to third place, while Marco Silva’s Fulham headed to the northwest already guaranteed to finish 10th thanks to a brilliant season following promotion.

United’s win was a club record-equalling 27th at Old Trafford in all competitions and maintains the Red Devils’ momentum heading into next weekend’s FA Cup final against treble-chasing rivals Manchester City.

A second trophy of Ten Hag’s first season would be huge, but there remains underlying issues at the club and the United faithful made it clear throughout Sunday’s match – as they always do – that the Glazer family must sell.

Their team began on the front foot and Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno stopped a fizzing early Diogo Dalot cross potentially being directed home by Fred.

The Fulham shot-stopper pawed away a well-struck Marcus Rashford free-kick from distance as United started brightly, only to then be caught cold from a 19th-minute set-piece.

Willian swung over a corner from the left and Tete got ahead of Rashford to all too easily head home at the near post in front of the stunned Stretford End.

Things looked set to unravel further for United in the 24th minute.

Harry Maguire’s poor pass out from the back led to a move that ended with Casemiro catching Tom Cairney’s leg in the box as the Fulham captain cut inside.

Referee Robert Jones pointed to the spot and Mitrovic stepped at Old Trafford, where his meltdown in Fulham’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat brought him an eight-match ban.

The Fulham frontman will also want to forget this latest trip to United as his firm strike was saved by De Gea, meaning he failed to score his fourth penalty of the Premier League campaign.

Old Trafford erupted at that save, enlivening United’s play in the process.

Rashford whistled a long-ranger narrowly wide and quick build-up play after winning the ball ended with Alejandro Garnacho curling just wide.

The 18-year-old went closer still in the 29th minute. Tyrell Malacia shifted the ball onto Garnacho in the box, with the winger opening his body up and curling a right-footed shot off the crossbar.

Leno denied Casemiro from an acute angle as Fulham appeared to see off United’s onslaught, only to be pegged back in the 39th minute.

Fernandes sent Fred darting into the box and Tete’s challenge on the midfielder inadvertently sent the ball onto Sancho to prod home an equaliser.

United returned from the break on top and took a 55th-minute lead through ever-reliable Fernandes.

Fred showed great skill and awareness to slip a pass through to the Portuguese, who had ran behind the Fulham backline and smartly clipped the ball over Leno after taking a touch.

Fernandes was denied a second from distance by Leno, with Rashford also seeing an attempt saved as United looked to put the result to bed.

Cairney had Fulham’s best chances, holding his head in his hands after one miss and seeing another tipped over by De Gea.

The United goalkeeper stopped substitute Carlos Vinicius’ strike unaware he had strayed offside, with the Spaniard again alert when fellow introduction Manor Solomon took aim.

Wout Weghorst, on for his final home appearance before his loan expires, turned a fine late chance wide.

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