Fulham 1-2 Man Utd: Paul Pogba fires United back to the top of the Premier League

Edinson Cavani scores for Manchester United against Fulham
Edinson Cavani’s fourth league goal for Manchester United set them on course for victory at Fulham

Paul Pogba scored a superb winner as Manchester United reclaimed top spot in the Premier League by coming from behind for a club-record equalling away win at Fulham.

In what is becoming a familiar pattern for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side outside Manchester this season, they fell behind early in the game, with Ademola Lookman beating the offside trap before firing in an angled drive.

But for the seventh time away from Old Trafford in 2020-21, United found a winning response – taking their run to 17 games unbeaten away in the Premier League – courtesy of a gift from their opponents and a bit of magic from their French midfielder.

Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola has been a good addition for the Cottagers but in dropping Bruno Fernandes’ cross at the feet of Edinson Cavani, he gifted his former Paris St-Germain team-mate the simplest of equalisers.

And on the hour mark, Pogba stepped up to decide the contest, firing a superb angled drive across the diving Areola and into the far corner from 20 yards.

The France international has come in for criticism at times this season but received nothing but praise from his manager after his winner.

“I am very happy with his performances,” said Solskjaer.

“I know what he can do. He does everything. Now he is putting all the elements together in his performances and it is great to see.

“It was about getting him fit. He is enjoying his football, he is happy and physically in a good shape.”

The win takes United to 40 points, two more than both Leicester and Manchester City, who had briefly taken top spot from the Foxes with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Solskjaer, though, was reluctant to get drawn into discussing his side’s title credentials with so much of the campaign to go.

“It is always going to be talked about that when you are halfway through and top of the league, but we are not thinking about this, we just have to go one game at a time,” he added. “It is such an unpredictable season.”

Fulham remain in the bottom three, four points behind 17th-placed Burnley.

Hard-fought but deserved win for United

Solskjaer felt his side missed a big opportunity to fully assert their title credentials in failing to make the most of their chances in Sunday’s 0-0 draw at champions Liverpool.

United were clearly in no mood to repeat such a mistake at a wet and windy Craven Cottage on Wednesday against a less daunting and defining opposition, but one that is far more robust now than they were in the season’s first month.

The visitors fell behind, but this is par for the course for this side, who once again did not panic, wrestled control of the game away from their opponents and took the win.

Solskjaer praises ‘committed’ Pogba in Fulham win

It is a handy trick for a title-challenging side to have in their locker, although one they would rather not have to repeatedly pull.

In truth, they should have won more handsomely.

They had the far greater share of possession and territory and were well ahead of their opponents on shots taken until a frantic finale in which the Cottagers threw in all they had in pursuit of a point.

Fred felt he should have had a penalty in the first half courtesy of being caught in the box by a loose challenge from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but both on-field and VAR officials disagreed.

Harry Maguire twice headed wide from corners, the first from a far less forgivable, unmarked position than the second.

Parker ‘disappointed but proud’ after defeat

Equally, though, it is a game that could have seen them drop points, especially in light of Fulham’s late barrage, which saw David de Gea save superbly with his legs to deny Loftus-Cheek, and the ball pinballing around the United box on more than one occasion.

The Cottagers demonstrated that they are no pushover, but they are making of habit of being on the rough end of fine margins.

Five straight draws followed by two defeats by a single goal suggests their battle against the drop will go right down to the wire.

“I’m really pleased but I’m disappointed at the same time, which shows how far we’ve come,” said Cottagers boss Scott Parker.

“I saw a team today that looked threatening and tried their hardest to get back into the game, but we go again. The next challenge is to maintain where we are and don’t let defeat sink us.

“No doubt we can win and operate in this division and we just need to push on and keep improving.”

United lead the way in early concessions

  • No side has conceded more goals in the opening five minutes of Premier League games this season than Manchester United (4). Manchester United have won seven Premier League games having gone behind this season – only Newcastle in 2001-02 (10) and Man Utd themselves in 2012-13 (9) have done so more in a single campaign.
  • Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 17 Premier League away games (W13 D4), equalling their longest ever unbeaten run on the road in top-flight history (17 between December 1998 and September 1999).
  • This was the 41st different game in which Fulham had led in all competitions under Scott Parker, but the first time they had lost such a game (W34 D6).
  • Edinson Cavani became the first Man Utd player whose first four Premier League goals for the club were all scored away from home.
  • Since his return to the club in 2016, no Man Utd player has scored more league goals from outside the box than Paul Pogba (6).
  • Ademola Lookman has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Fulham player this season (6 – 3 goals, 3 assists).
  • Bruno Fernandes has gone three Premier League games without a goal or assist for the first time since his Manchester United debut in February 2020.

What next?

Fulham’s next game is in the FA Cup, against Burnley on Sunday (14:30 GMT). Their next league fixture, an away game on Wednesday, 27 January, is a big one. Opponents Brighton are two places and five points above them in the table.

Manchester United host Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday at 17:00, live on the BBC. They are also in league action the following Wednesday hosting the league’s bottom club Sheffield United in a 20:15 kick-off.

Player of the match

CavaniEdinson Cavani

with an average of 7.86

Fulham

  1. Squad number19Player nameLookman

    Average rating

    6.52

  2. Squad number15Player nameLoftus-Cheek

    Average rating

    6.28

  3. Squad number1Player nameAreola

    Average rating

    5.92

  4. Squad number2Player nameTete

    Average rating

    5.72

  5. Squad number5Player nameAndersen

    Average rating

    5.66

  6. Squad number16Player nameAdarabioyo

    Average rating

    5.55

  7. Squad number29Player nameZambo Anguissa

    Average rating

    5.52

  8. Squad number21Player nameReed

    Average rating

    5.43

  9. Squad number34Player nameAina

    Average rating

    5.39

  10. Squad number23Player nameBryan

    Average rating

    5.28

  11. Squad number9Player nameMitrovic

    Average rating

    5.21

  12. Squad number17Player nameCavaleiro

    Average rating

    5.08

  13. Squad number47Player nameKamara

    Average rating

    4.89

  14. Squad number18Player nameLemina

    Average rating

    4.85

Manchester United

  1. Squad number7Player nameCavani
    Average rating

    7.86

  2. Squad number6Player namePogba
    Average rating

    7.73

  3. Squad number23Player nameShaw
    Average rating

    7.25

  4. Squad number1Player namede Gea
    Average rating

    6.86

  5. Squad number5Player nameMaguire
    Average rating

    6.79

  6. Squad number17Player nameFred
    Average rating

    6.74

  7. Squad number18Player nameBruno Fernandes
    Average rating

    6.67

  8. Squad number3Player nameBailly
    Average rating

    6.63

  9. Squad number29Player nameWan-Bissaka
    Average rating

    6.42

  10. Squad number10Player nameRashford
    Average rating

    6.10

  11. Squad number39Player nameMcTominay
    Average rating

    5.99

  12. Squad number31Player nameMatic
    Average rating

    5.82

  13. Squad number11Player nameGreenwood
    Average rating

    5.71

  14. Squad number9Player nameMartial
    Average rating

    5.34

Line-ups

Fulham

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Areola
  • 34AinaBooked at 69minsSubstituted forMitrovicat 83′minutes
  • 5Andersen
  • 16Adarabioyo
  • 2Tete
  • 29Zambo AnguissaBooked at 12minsSubstituted forLeminaat 79′minutes
  • 21Reed
  • 23BryanBooked at 62mins
  • 15Loftus-Cheek
  • 17CavaleiroSubstituted forKamaraat 71′minutes
  • 19Lookman

Substitutes

  • 3Hector
  • 4Odoi
  • 7Kebano
  • 9Mitrovic
  • 12Rodák
  • 13Ream
  • 18Lemina
  • 25Onomah
  • 47Kamara

Man Utd

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1de Gea
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 3Bailly
  • 5Maguire
  • 23Shaw
  • 6PogbaBooked at 10mins
  • 17Fred
  • 11GreenwoodSubstituted forRashfordat 85′minutes
  • 18Bruno FernandesSubstituted forMaticat 90+5′minutes
  • 9MartialSubstituted forMcTominayat 85′minutes
  • 7Cavani

Substitutes

  • 8Mata
  • 10Rashford
  • 21James
  • 26Henderson
  • 27Telles
  • 31Matic
  • 34van de Beek
  • 38Tuanzebe
  • 39McTominay

Referee:
Martin Atkinson

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Fulham 1, Manchester United 2.

  2. Second Half ends, Fulham 1, Manchester United 2.

  3. Substitution, Manchester United. Nemanja Matic replaces Bruno Fernandes.

  4. Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Eric Bailly.

  5. Attempt missed. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Kenny Tete with a cross following a corner.

  6. Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

  7. Attempt blocked. Ademola Lookman (Fulham) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Mario Lemina.

  8. Foul by Scott McTominay (Manchester United).

  9. Harrison Reed (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Foul by Edinson Cavani (Manchester United).

  11. Joachim Andersen (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Offside, Fulham. Aboubakar Kamara tries a through ball, but Kenny Tete is caught offside.

  13. Substitution, Manchester United. Marcus Rashford replaces Mason Greenwood.

  14. Substitution, Manchester United. Scott McTominay replaces Anthony Martial.

  15. Attempt missed. Mario Lemina (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Aboubakar Kamara.

  16. Attempt blocked. Joe Bryan (Fulham) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

  17. Attempt missed. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Fulham) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right following a fast break.

  18. Substitution, Fulham. Aleksandar Mitrovic replaces Ola Aina.

  19. Attempt blocked. Fred (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Harry Maguire with a headed pass.

  20. Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Mario Lemina.

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