Manchester United’s Premier League draw against relegated Fulham is a “wake-up call” before next week’s Europa League final against Villarreal, says manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Edinson Cavani welcomed the return of fans back to the Premier League with a brilliant 40-yard lobbed goal, but the Red Devils were unable to mark the special day with a victory as Fulham came back to draw at Old Trafford.
Manchester United 1-1 Fulham
Cavani scored a stunning strike as he ran onto a long ball that was played downfield by goalkeeper David de Gea, which VAR believed touched Bruno Fernandes on the way through. The Uruguayan lifted the ball over Fulham keeper Alphonso Areola with a perfectly executed finish that flew into the net.
For a long time, it looked like being the winner as United seemed relatively comfortable but an uninspired second half from the home side saw Joe Bryan pouncing onto a header at the far post, completely unmarked to convert a Bobby Decordova-Reid deep cross from the right.
After the game, Solskjaer said: “I think it might be a wake-up call because we tried to do the fancy stuff – the flicks, the extraordinary things, the things that pleased the fans.
“That’s not what we’re about. We should be more efficient.
“Have a look at Cavani, have a look at how he plays the game. Every single one of us look at him.
“Back tackles, runs, scores – there’s no fluff. And we can’t have fluff in a game of football.”
Fulham boss Scott Parker felt his side was superb but was frustrated by the decision for United’s goal, believing it should have been ruled out for offside against Cavani.
“I thought we were fantastic today,” he told Sky Sports. “We played like a big team. We had to be courageous.
“It’s a difficult place to come – Old Trafford – let alone today with 10,000 fans in. I’m very proud and overall pleased with the performance.”
When asked about Cavani’s goal, he said: “I don’t understand how it’s not offside.
“The fourth official said if Fernandes hasn’t touched it he’s five yards offside. I’ve looked at it back. I can understand if we didn’t have VAR, I get that that goal can be given due to human error, but when you can slow it down and look at the angles you can see he’s not touched it.”
Manchester United complete their Premier League campaign at Wolverhampton against Wolves on Sunday, 23rd May before facing Villarreal in the Europa League final in Gdansk, Poland on Wednesday, 26th May.
Fulham’s last game in the top division this season is against Newcastle United at Craven Cottage on 23rd May.
Manchester United have dropped 10 points from winning positions at Old Trafford this season – their highest ever such total at home in a Premier League season.
Cavani is the 25th different player to score 10+ goals in a single Premier League season for Manchester United – more than any other team in the competition’s history.
The draw, however, was enough for the record English league champions as they secured 2nd place in the league after Chelsea beat Leicester City later that evening.