Alejandro Garnacho was the hero as Manchester United sealed a last-gasp Premier League win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Erik ten Haga’s side hit the front with Christian Eriksen’s first United goal early on, but it looked like they would be denied by their former winger Dan James when he equalized within two minutes of coming on.
Fulham looked the most likely winners from there as United relied on a series of saves from David de Gea, but Garnacho hit back three minutes from the break to stun Craven Cottage.
The 18-year-old’s composed finish lifted United to within three points of the Premier League’s top four and ensured the Red Devils entered the six-week break in high spirits.
De Gea saved from Carlos Vinicius as Fulham threatened early on, but United took the lead after 14 minutes when Bruno Fernandes crossed for Eriksen to head home from close range.
Although Fulham continued to enjoy long stretches of possession, Anthony Martial missed two chances to double United’s lead before the break, forcing a one-on-one save from Bernd Leno before nodding in Luke Shaw’s cross.
Eriksen then poked just wide on the stroke of half-time before De Gea made reflex saves to deny Vinicius and Tim Ream as Fulham stepped up their search for an equalizer after the break.
But the Spaniard’s resistance was finally broken after 61 minutes, as Fulham substitute James pounced on Tom Cairney’s cross to deservedly equalise.
United then spent long periods pushing back as Fulham continued to press, but there was one final twist when Garnacho pounced on Eriksen’s pass before getting behind Leno to finally break Fulham’s hearts.
Fulham vs Manchester United player ratings – Premier League
1. Fulham (4-2-3-1)
Starting XI – GK: Bernd Leno (7); RB: Bobby Reid (7), CB: Issa Diop (6), CB: Tim Ream (7), LB: Antonee Robinson (7); CM: Joao Palhinha (7), CM: Tom Cairney (7); RW: Harry Wilson (6), AM: Andreas Pereira (6), RW: Willian (7); ST: Carlos Vinicius (6).
SUBS: Daniel James (7), Joshua Onomah (N/A)
2. Man Utd (4-2-3-1)
GK: David de Gea – 6/10 – Down smartly to deny Carlos Vinicius after 52 minutes; at full stretch to deny Tim Ream from the resulting corner.
RB: Tyrell Malacia – 4/10 – Out of position, he struggled positionally and looked awkward in possession, with his immediate thought being to cut inside onto his left foot. Had trouble containing Willian and was caught in no man’s land for the equaliser.
CB: Victor Lindelof – 6/10 – With no Mitrovic up front for Fulham, deploying the Swede was less of a risk.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 7/10 – Defenders should not be this composed with a ball at their feet. Goes against every convention ever taught in British Sunday league, but it’s such an asset. Another fine display from the ‘Butcher’.
LB: Luke Shaw – 6/10 – A composed performance on a much more settled left-wing, venturing forward into space well.
DM: Casemiro – 7/10 – Looks more comfortable with every game he plays. Still caught in possession once or twice, but positioned himself strongly to sweep up in front of United’s defence.
DM: Christian Eriksen – 7/10 – Key to United’s build-up play, as usual. Always available for a pass and picked the right positions. Their need for another deep-lying playmaker to alleviate the burden on Eriksen is obvious, as the Dane’s influence waned later on.
RM: Anthony Elanga – 6/10 – Couldn’t provide the same sort of output as Antony. Where the Brazilian stretches the pitch and isolates defenders, Elanga does his best work running in behind. United’s right flank is considerably weaker without their usual duo.
AM: Bruno Fernandes – 8/10 – Sharp, confident, outgoing. Fernandes at his best. He popped up between Fulham’s various defensive gaps and demonstrated his incredible passing range on his 100th Premier League outing.
LM: Marcus Rashford – 6/10 – A more timid performance following weeks of impressive and explosive displays.
ST: Anthony Martial – 6/10 – His hold-up play, technical ability and composure in possession is so key to United being able to sustain attacks and break quickly. Just lacked any clear-cut chances to score himself.
SUB: Scott McTominay (55′ for Elanga) – 5/10 – Didn’t offer the same pace on the counter for United.
SUB: Alejandro Garnacho (72′ for Martial) – 8/10 – Fearless as usual when running at defenders. Paid dividends in the form of a last-minute winner.
Manager: Erik ten Hag – 5/10 – His hands were tied with injuries limiting his options both in the XI and off the bench, but bringing on McTominay when he did felt a little strange.